Over the past week or so, I’ve spent more time down at our Brooklyn restaurant than in the past six months combined.
We’ve had some really wonderful staffing changes, and I’ve been there to manage the transitions. Being submerged back into the world of the restaurant is an odd experience. I am simultaneously longing to be back up on the farm and right back into my 12-hour shift, dress-up clothes wearing, workday comfort zone.
In many ways, it’s like I never left the day-to-day of the restaurant. The same regular customers are coming in and saying their warm “hellos,” the staff (for the most part) has remained the same for the past several years, and the overall consistency of the space has been maintained. Sure, my kids are grumbling that I’m not around enough now and the laundry is piling up and I haven’t snuggled the goats in days, but we’ve gotta have our priorities, right?
We opened applewood restaurant in September of 2004. It was, and has remained, a place to enjoy excellent food, wine, and cocktails made with sustainably-sourced ingredients across the board. Because we sourced the majority of our products from local farmers, we had the opportunity to meet many of them over the years. Repeatedly meeting the interesting, lovely, and oftentimes completely crazy folks who dedicate their lives to growing good, clean food, is what ultimately persuaded Dave and me to try our own hands at farming (“Hey! We too are interesting, lovely, and completely crazy…this thing might just work!”).
So, ten years on, we are still plugging along. The weekends are incredibly busy, but the weekdays could definitely use a boost in customer visits (read: DINE WITH US ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY, PLEASE). We have brought in a new manager and sommelier and even a couple new servers and bartenders to give the place the fresh breath of enthusiasm that every restaurant needs from time to time.
I would be remiss not to mention the AMAZING front-of-the-house folks who have kept applewood on track over the years both in my presence and my absence. Specifically, Matt Frey (who is really a composer) and Geoffrey Young (who is really a novelist), without whom the wheels would have come off this particular bus more than once. Tip of the hat, gents.
And so, for now, I am only an occasional farmer. I am, quite literally, traveling from farm to table (and back again) and will continue to do so until further notice. The deliveries of organic eggs and pork continue, only now I get to stick around and see exactly how they end up on each night’s menu. And you can too; check it out on our website.