Restaurants are like babies—their first year of life is the most perilous. That’s why when a dining establishment survives those first chaotic 12 months, it’s cause to invite the friends and family over for a celebration. Brooke and Luther Fedora, owners of 1-year-old Horse & Hound GastroPub on W. Main Street, are doing just that this weekend. In honor of their little restaurant offspring’s official emergence into toddlerhood, there will be drink and appetizer specials throughout the weekend, as well as live music.
Restaurantarama had the opportunity to speak to the Fedoras last June, when the two experienced chefs and Culinary Institute of America graduates had just given birth to H & H—their very first restaurant. Like any new parents, they exuded excitement and optimism, and they spoke confidently about the resurgence of W. Main Street’s dining corridor and their particular location in the old Blue Bird Café spot. They also sounded certain of their culinary concept, which merged high-quality food in a casual British-pub-like atmosphere. With the first tumultuous year under their belts, however, we wondered: Would the twosome be as upbeat or just worse for the wear?
Brooke and Luther Fedora are celebrating one year of their business baby, Horse & Hound GastroPub on W. Main Street.
“There are probably a million things we didn’t know when we started!” Brooke told us when we asked what lessons she’d inevitably learned during the past year.
“We’ve been in the industry a long time, but we’ve never owned a restaurant. I think the biggest thing for us has been how much harder it is to be the boss and owner—that it’s our fault if we fail or if we succeed.”
Fortunately for the Fedoras, it seems it’s more of the latter, thanks to a solid business plan. H & H changes the menu seasonally to take advantage of the best produce, etc., but their core concept of spruced-up pub fare, good beers and nicer entrees hasn’t changed.
“Our mission from the beginning was to get a large variety of people, and that’s what we’re getting—students and townspeople and tourists—those that want to spend money on a nice filet and those that just want a burger. We have a diverse clientele.”
Also, they’re still smitten with their space.
“I love where we’re located. We have a great patio and we are great friends with our neighbors,” says Brooke, referencing nearby newbie establishments, the 1-year-old Zinc and the about-to-be 1-year-old Maya.
“We absolutely could have more traffic, and it would be nice to get people off the Mall, for lunches especially. Some of those restaurants have been there forever. With time, people start to know you. For the most part, we are all doing very well, and we have tons of parking.”
So with the trifecta of restaurant success—location, menu and ambience—working as planned and the make-or-break first year out of the way, the Fedoras are busy with business expansion plans for H & H’s second year of life. In addition to creating their website and launching an H & H advertising campaign, they are starting to market catering, business lunch take-out and more event services.
But all of that sounds like a cakewalk after the first year of restaurant parenthood, right? Except that the Fedoras gave birth to an actual human child two months ago—so much for catching up on sleep.
To find out about Horse & Hound’s weekend of anniversary events, call 293-3365.
Old friend Al Dente, which departed its location above Escafé on the Downtown Mall after The Upstairs took over that space, has re-emerged in its new location in the Ix Building. The patio overlooking the Ix ruins is still in the works, but the dining room is open for lunch and dinner.
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