Kevin Nashan took over Sidney Street Cafe in 2003. Here he reflects on the lessons he’s learned running the beloved Benton Park restaurant for the past decade.
The greatest lesson Sidney Street cafe has taught me?
Listening to my wife, my brother, back of the house, front of the house, customers. It helps you grow. It makes you better.
The first time we put foie gras on th.e menu, we were so excited and nobody ordered it. Another time, we did a mackerel dish and we loved it, but customers didn’t get it. A year later? Customers wanted it. Sometimes they’re ready, and sometimes they’re not. You have to listen.
Honestly, it’s harder to take over a restaurant because the expectations are so high. You know what’s worked and what hasn’t. You just don’t know if you should change anything. It takes time and a little courage.
When we took over Sidney Street, we were under a microscope, but we knew people would show up because there was an existing clientele. With Peacemaker (Nashan’s new restaurant to open In the coming weeks), we get to be creative instantly with the food. There’s no model to follow.
You always want to re-polish. Before I make a vichyssoise I research it because there’s always room for improvement. You want to respect your craft and the way you do that is by doing your homework.