Come June 5th our first-born (Lucky 32 Restaurant) will be fifteen years old. We are not dealing with pimples or braces, but we have decided that this would be a good time to give her (and her latter-born sisters) some loving attention. This attention started with an honest look-see using our “Oklahoma Eyes.” (That is what we call the mind-set we use when we pretend that we’ve never been in the restaurant and that we’ve heard that it is good but we’re skeptical. It is a difficult mind-set to hold, but when we do, it is wonderfully enlightening.)
After a few months of this soft gaze, we’ve concluded that we like Lucky’s a lot (thank goodness), but she has a few lazy habits. We love that we’re comfortable wearing khakis or dressed for a cocktail party. The Get Lucky & Go service is fantastic. Overall, the flavors are quite good, it’s a good value, and we really appreciate the wine selection and its fair pricing. Being able to make a reservation is great. The seasonal menus are fun and we order off them about half the time. We like the food from the Field Truck and find ourselves anxious to taste the flavors of Spring, even though we are enjoying the hearty fare of Winter. We especially appreciate that the service is courteous and efficient but not overly “familiar.” On the lazy side, we found that the house salad, the cheese bread, and the riso pasta and some other recipes need some attention. We also found ourselves thinking, “These restaurants make such an effort, especially considering their price point, to offer “honest fare” using local ingredients, that it seems to us that they ought to relate even more to the evolving food traditions of the South.” (I’ll bet that you’ll see the impact of this thinking pretty soon.) We could go into more detail about all of this, but we bet that you get a flavor for our thinking.
Read on and you’ll learn about some romantic ways to celebrate your love/lust for your Valentine, our pretty wacky design process, a Winter recipe, and the calendar for upcoming menus.
Cheers! Dennis Quaintance & Nancy King Quaintance
I know this sounds pat, but we “begin with the end in mind,” – the end always being “pleasurable and comfortable experiences for our guests.” We ask, “What, optimally, ought our guests experience when they arrive, while dining, en route to the restroom (this one is of particular interest to me),” and so forth. Then, after agreeing (which most often takes awhile), the Q-W Right Reverend Minister of Design, Don Rives, and I sit down and “commence arguin’” (we have never come to blows, but there have been some pretty dramatic demonstrations of exasperation).
From here we agree upon a sort of “vignette.” For instance, with the Green Valley Grill, the vignette was a fantasy that we had discovered an early 1900’s brick, Tuscan-style building that had once housed a mill or a store. With our Cary Lucky 32 restaurant, we began with a fantasy of a freestanding “art-deco” styled post-war grocery store. So, the first step with both of these projects was to design what we “discovered,” then we designed the restaurants to fit that aesthetic.
With the O.Henry Hotel, we wanted it to appear as though it were built as any city’s best hotel at the turn of the last century. We pretended that the late Charles Hartmann, the architect for the 1919 vintage O.Henry that stood in downtown Greensboro, was our advisor. We studied the design of the original O.Henry, and other Hartmann buildings, to come up with the various architectural features that we thought Mr. Hartmann would insist upon. Then we commissioned Chip Holton to create a painting of a hotel incorporating those features in the proportions we imagined. Only after all of that did we start putting lines on the architectural drawings.
Crazy, isn’t it? Like I said, don’t do what we do – it’s nutty – but it works for us. And, it’s a lot of fun. It’s childish and free and, in candor, it’s a wonderful indulgence. (As a side note, our friend Chip Holton shared Bruce Mau’s “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” with us and it really struck a chord [brucemaudesign.com]. In it Mr. Mau says, “Process is more important than outcome.” To paraphrase his words, when the outcome drives the process you will only ever go to where you’ve already been. If process drives outcome you may not know where you’re going, but you will know you want to be there. (Reading this was affirmation that we’re not the only ones who go through our posterior to get to our elbow.)
Our mantra during all of our design processes is “It’s about our guest’s experience, our guest’s experience, our guest’s experience.” We just hope that you enjoy the spaces we create half as much as we enjoy creating them, and that the fun and excitement we have with this process shines through and enhances your enjoyment when you are in them. (I sure as fire hope that this doesn’t sound like bragging. It’s not. More than anything it is an excuse for how long it has taken us to figure out how to add outdoor dining to our Greensboro Lucky’s and how to enhance the outdoor dining experience at our Winston-Salem restaurant.)
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- The O.Henry Hotel has been awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award for the fifth year in a row, plus we’ve been rated in Canada at the same level. We’re thrilled that our hotel has been chosen for this top-notch rating yet again.
- We now have Hi Fi Sony Stereos with CD players and AM/FM radios in each of our guest rooms so our guests can enjoy their favorite music.
- The O.Henry has been accepted for membership in Boutique Lodging, a worldwide, online network of boutique hotels. The O.Henry is the only hotel in NC to be accepted. We recommend visiting their site if you are looking for a small, distinctive hotel, no matter where you’re travelling.
- Local artist and sculptor, Jim Gallucci, is installing an elaborate design in our guest elevators that include an “O.Henry twist.” Stop by anytime to see his craftsmanship.
- We’ve chosen the name “O.Henryetta” for our London Taxi. Thanks to Jayne Ericourt for being the first of about fifteen people to suggest that name. Now we want to know, what do you think the O. stands for? If you have any ideas drop me (Dennis) a line at [email protected].