LARKSPUR – The founders of the long-established fine-dining Lark Creek Inn resolved to shift its focus this year in light of the recession and will unveil its new “neighborhood dining model” called The Tavern at Lark Creek.
“This is a very exciting moment for us. It’s one of those times where through diversity comes advantage,” said Lark Creek Restaurant Group President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dellar.
“When the economic crisis hit us all, we looked at it as an opportunity to come up with an idea that is bright for the times today and in the future as people’s habits and patterns continue to change for a long time to come.”
After close to 20 years as a high-end restaurant, the Lark Creek Inn closed its doors April 12 to begin renovations and rebirth as a more modestly priced, “every day” diner. Mr. Dellar said the establishment known for its high-priced menu had become a special occasions hot spot, but the company wanted to change the model to grab more week day and non-holiday eaters.
The exterior of the cream yellow Victorian constructed in the late 1800s will look relatively the same other than the sign above the door, but almost the entire interior will be gutted and shift from “prim and proper” to more relaxed, but sophisticated, pub styling.
The bar and lounge will be redressed with new lighting and furnishings and the bar refinished. A unique wine bottle art sculpture will be displayed in the entry with a host podium reduced in size to have a more open feel. Artwork throughout building will be replaced, and acclaimed San Francisco muralists Evans & Brown coated one wall with a detailed tavern still-life.
A new wood-burning, brick oven was constructed in the main dining room and will display a slow-roasting rotisserie. Tables will be left bare without table clothes and a smaller private dining room will be transformed into the “buck room,” named for a striking chandelier centerpiece crafted from antlers.
Almost more drastic than the interior changes, menu prices will drop to around $15 dollars a plate. Mr. Dellar said the cooking will utilize the same farm-to-table concept, but with more comprehensive offerings including dishes of red kuri squash bisque as well as standards such as “Petaluma chicken wings” and classic pot roast.
In the bar, the tavern will offer wine glasses as low as $5 by using a unique tap system pulled from sealed, metal barrels.
“With the new beverage program, you eliminate the cost of the bottle and label, offering a great selection on local wines that might otherwise cost $10 or $15 a glass,” Mr. Dellar said.
The Lark Creek Restaurant Group was created by Mr. Dellar and partner Bradley Ogden in 1988 and operates seven establishments in California and Nevada. The Lark Creek Inn was the pair’s first venture and opened in 1989. During its 20 years it amassed a list of strong accolades, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ Fine Dining Hall of Fame in 1994 and membership in DiRoNA’s Distinguished Restaurants of North America.
The Tavern at Lark Creek will open by the end of May with an open house celebration a short time afterward. The site will continue to offer events hosting, including for weddings and receptions.