We asked Heirloom chef John Skaggs to write about his café, which opened inside the Wexner Center in September. His thoughts about the past, present, and future of Heirloom:
On our way to a softball game on a beautiful Ohio summer day in June, we receive a phone call: Kimberly and I have been awarded the bid for the café space at the Wexner Center. My niece, Deonna, says, "We have a restaurant?"
Fast forward 10 weeks until September 12, 2012 (opening day). The restaurant is called Heirloom. Our menu is made from scratch with a core focus on seasonal ingredients creatively prepared. We somehow managed to gather and hire an inspired group of food and service specialists. Grower, farmer, purveyor, and other artisan relationships of our combined restaurant management experience were combined and rekindled. With personal investment and family support, we gathered the funds to develop the concept, test menu items, assemble and train a team to complement our vision. Our guests to Heirloom include students, faculty, staff, and the many visitors to the Wexner Center and Ohio State campus.
We have a restaurant?!
Fast-fast-forward to January 15, 2012: our first 100 days and counting:
Our menu is still made from scratch and newly revised with an ever-growing accent on local and sustainable sources. Our café staff is continuing to exceed expectations. New relationships combined with past ones have fruited many new sourcing opportunities including collaborating our efforts with Ecological Engineering Society on our own Wexner Center Chef's Garden. We are defining our success, thus far, by purchasing quality ingredients and continuing to employ our talented staff. Our guests have expressed much gratitude for the delicious food served in a timely manner, all facets echoed by local positive media support. Perhaps the greatest reward for us in this business is that we can often forget that this is a business, in the way an artist might get lost in art. Hospitality happens.
We have more than a restaurant.
On the horizon:
Now thru April:
As part of Ohio State's SENR (School of Environment and Natural Resources) MENR (Masters in Environment and Natural Resources) project, graduate student Bob Fitchko is evaluating Heirloom and comparing overall site and operations against industry standards for optimal sustainable practices.
A chef's garden. Heirloom, an eco-conscious restaurant, will start a garden later this year outside the Wexner Center, providing Heirloom visitors with local, sustainably grown fare. Stay tuned for more information on this garden, which will complement the Wexner Center's "Green Mission Statement" and its "green" programs focused on sustainability and reduction of environmental impact.
And so much more to come.