As we head into our 37th year of business and are drinking bubbly in celebration of the 36 years past, I was curious about statistics on restaurants and longevity. I googled ‘the average life span of an independent restaurant’, what I found was rather stunning. Half of all independent restaurants will close in the first year and 80% of all restaurants will never see their 10th year. The remaining 20% will find long lasting success. Well, here we are, 36 years later, still cooking and welcoming you to our table.
We recently posted pictures from a long time ago, in our beginning years. It brought back so many flashes of who we were in those early years. Pre-social media and an advertising budget, we had that flashing, ever painful sign out front to shout out the offerings,
‘all you can eat’ was a standard. Once you got past the sign and into the dining room our Blackboard Specials let everyone know what we were cooking. The Blackboard has been with us since the very first day.
There are so many ways to track our passage through time. Our table coverings is one. The progression from checkered tables cloths
(that I use to wash) to glass tops, to finally unadorned wood. Other measurements are the bar and our giant leap from rock gut liquor to maine crafted liquor, the size and shape of the kitchen, pre-fire, post fire, pre-pandemic, still pandemic; but the best way always to measure our growth is our Blackboard.
The Blackboard has grown from ‘all you can eat’ to this past week where the menus were studded with just foraged hen of the woods mushrooms. Our Blackboard has been influenced by many cooks and chefs who have worked beside us and taught us; The Good Table kitchen was the first I’d ever worked in, I had a lot to learn. I am thankful to have learned from so many all these years, starting with my parents. The Good Table took a distinct turn from who it was to who it would become in 2001 after the restaurant burnt down. With the leadership of two of the best chefs and teachers, John St Germain and Ryan Weeks, we ever had we rose to a higher ground. We started to seriously work with all the local farms and became the restaurant we are today. While many of our original menu items from 1986 still grace the menu, the Blackboard has always been our place to grow, experiment and create. From breakfast to dinner each cook gets an opportunity to put themselves on that board.
Partnerships that last 36 years are also a bit of a rarity. A father and daughter team seems the right mix for Tony and myself. We both have brought different nuances to the business. We haven’t always agreed, but our differences are what has made the restaurant a place where everyone is comfortable and there is something for all. I am more than thankful to have him as my partner. I can always trust him and his opinions and he mine. In 2018 we invited Jessica, my oldest niece and Tony’s first grandchild, to join us as a partner. Jessica has been with us since she was 14 years of age, she has seen every angle there is to see in this restaurant. Our goal was always to keep her ‘out of the kitchen’ but turns out that is where her true love is. Her youth, strong work ethic, and love of good food has been genius. She is strong, smart and kind. She has a passion for good food and the business. She has been such a great addition to our partnership.
It is a testament to this restaurant that we have a cook, Danny,
who is coming up on his 25th year with us. There are so many things that Danny cooks for our guests, all the chowders, Juanita’s burrito, corn beef hash and the infamous Danny’s Burger. He is so good that he never takes a weekend off, even when he had a short hiatus for a year and worked somewhere else, he still worked sunday brunch with us. He is one of the biggest reasons we rock the hell out of saturday breakfast and sunday brunch. Danny is family and we are thankful for him and all the others, though with not quite as much longevity, who have cooked beside us, taught us, bettered us and been loyal and true.
The Good Table has always been known for our Sweets Department, now head up by Adrienne, she is fearless and talented. The cinnamon buns we made all those years ago are the same we make today. Each and every pastry chef over the years has brought their own spin on sugar. You can tell the seasons through our pies because it’s always pie season at The Good Table. We have been been blessed with the best, sweetest, strong assed women creating in our kitchen. I have loved and learned for each one.
Kaylin leads the dining room, everyone who knows us knows Kaylin. She is gold. She leads a gracious, smart team and has proven neither fire nor pandemic can keep her and our front of the house team from doing their best each day. I couldn’t come close to counting the amazing women who have made us who we are. There are so many, you all know who you are. Thank you. (Wanna pickup a shift?)
Over the many years most of the Kostopoulos family has done some time with us. In the kitchen, in the dining room, the age span from oldest to youngest currently at the GT is 88 to 16. How extraordinary is that? While family politics can sometimes be challenging I know we are still here because of the family that had our backs. Sylvia, the matriarch, has been our champion for 36 years and more. She has brought the design, taught me how to cook, how to be a host and how to be a leader. We would not be celebrating all these years with out her.
Last but certainly not least are all the people who sat at our tables. People we have grown to consider family, friends. Babies being born, the passing of beloveds and everything in between, our history is rich. There are so very many who have brought a smile to us. Thank you seems not quite grand enough, but thank you. You have made it worth all the work, it has been our pleasure to feed you and yours for all these years.
‘the cure for anything is salt water..sweat, tears or the sea’