Spring Menus, Pics, Videos & Be Careful What You Wish For!
Video: Chef Nate’s Introduction of Our Spring Specials
Lunch and Dinner:
Click the images above for full-screen images.
rack of lamb
spring green gaspacho
prawn & calamari salad
spring burger (spicy)
clam chowder returns
cajun cake benedict
asparagus arugula salad
tamarind glazed salmon
spring splendor omelette
Be Careful What You Wish For!
A tale of how our restaurant became bigger than we were.
(and our enduring commitment to great service)
When we reopened in March with our big patio covered, a fresh new menu, a core staff that had been with me since 2015 and guests who were rooting for us for reasons of their own, things were comfortable. Soon after, one night here and another there, Tavern had some strange nights that were much busier than expected, much busier than we had reason to prepare for. Soon, even notoriously slow shifts like “Saturday Brunch,” when tumbleweeds regularly rolled through empty dining rooms where we dreamed customers might someday sit, the number of guests doubled and redoubled and redoubled weekly until the staff we had was woefully insufficient. With nobody on our current roster available to help on Saturday mornings, it took me six of the longest weeks of my career to find people worthy of adding to Tavern’s team. By mid-April, Tavern was (dare I say it) busy always. ALWAYS. Everything I had ever wished for had come true! By the end of April, I had hired three great new teammates, Joe and Cody and David the wine guy, and we were set!
Or so I thought.
The week before Mother’s Day, the Governor decreed, “No Mother shall eat indoors for, umm, I don’t know… until I say so!” I prudently canceled 90 reservations for indoor Moms before scrambling to cover the back patio with a clear tarp to provide dry tables for as many of those sad indoor Moms as were willing to eat happily outdoors. I also added six new tables to the front patio and it looked like the weather was going to hold. We lost 17 tables indoors but added 15 outdoors. Mom’s were happy. My staff was relieved. Even I was pretty impressed with myself… until the Governor exclaimed two days later, “Just kidding Moms! You can eat wherever you want!” Holy moly. I just added 45 seats to Mother’s Day. And every day thereafter. Forty-five seats is the entire floor plan for a lot of restaurants!
Before I go on, you should know that on page two of the “How To Not Run a Restaurant Like an Idiot” handbook, it clearly states, “don’t add 45 seats to a restaurant before you have enough servers to keep your customers happy all seven days per week.” On page 14 it also clearly states, “don’t host live music when short-staffed because your whole restaurant must turn over in 30 minutes instead of a much more comfortable 2 hours.”
Contrary to popular belief, I actually read that manual. I had just lost 48 seats so I added 45 and figured I had at least a month to train up a couple servers before indoor dining reopened. Wrong! The announcement came Tuesday that we would reopen Friday: I had three days.
Finding servers with the potential to meet the service standards of Annie, Emily, James, Charlotte, and Kylie takes a while and when “great human being” is also a requirement, it takes even longer. Getting them trained and up to speed in a new restaurant takes longer yet. While I was interviewing and hiring, my existing staff, trying their damndest to make up for their reactionary boss, were exhausting themselves. Within a 24 hour period, I heard two cries for help: Charlotte told me, “I’m just an order taker right now with more tables than I can do a good job with. I don’t have time to engage with anybody anymore. I miss my customers.” Emily wrote me an email entitled “a letter of stress” in which she confided: “I had the highest sales I think I’ve ever had in a 5 hour period. I’d rather make less money and not feel like I’m making our guests suffer from the fact that I am just too busy.”
I had already put live music on hold to keep that 5:45-6:15 turnover from stressing them out, but the morning after I received Emily’s email, I removed 7 tables (28 seats of the new 45) from the patio and put them in storage. We are still over-extended by a bit (the back patio is still covered and open), but service improved dramatically overnight and morale is back up. Way up. Within a few days, Emily stopped me to say, “I remember now why I love my job. Thank you.”
Since Mother’s Day, I’ve hired two strong servers (Tanna and Reagan) and two phenomenal bartenders (Ryan and Kayla), all of whom are fantastic human beings. Two of them have already emerged from training. I’ve hired two new hosts (Chanel and Angela), both in high school, both of whom are in that phase between “finished with training” and “hungry grown-ups waiting for a dinner table are still terrifying.” They will get there. Bartender Annie, who does our scheduling and training, told me Saturday that “everyone will be ready to rock and roll by the first week of June and we’ll be set for summer.”
I’ll get some music on the books soon. I’m excited to introduce you to a handful of new people you’ll be happy to know. I’m excited for Tavern to be its best self again.
So, this is that moment when I apologize to you if you have paid even the slightest price for my wish of “busy every night” coming true over these last two months. Next time, I’ll be more careful in what I wish for… or at least how I wish for it.