If you think this post is going to be about food, you're wrong. Please read on....
We usually associate the term 'home grown' with produce....or perhaps you're a baseball fan from a time when home grown could have been associated with talent that was groomed for years in the minor leagues and then went on to play for the big league team (where have you gone 'Oriole Way'????). I've got a little different perspective (I know that doesn't surprise anyone).
We had the great fortune to cook for some 'industry-types' on saturday night. Without naming names, he is a former sommelier at a huge place in DC, has worked for a James Beard Award Winning chef and is opening a new place in two weeks. We had no idea he was 'in the biz' until after his dinner was over and I was asked to meet his table in the dining room. However, for reasons that I can't divulge, Karen and I had 'flagged' his reservation as a person of interest (yes, we work in much the same way the NSA and CIA work) Anyhow, I told you all of that so that I could get to the point of my story. As we were talking, he mentioned how great the service was....to which I in turn related to him that our restaurant team as a whole is home grown. Meaning, we are, as a whole from Hanover. For anyone who knows Karen's story, you'll immediately jump up and say 'wait a minute, Karen is from Tennessee.' She's actually from Morristown, Tennessee...for those of you who haven't been there, Morristown is basically Hanover with a drawl and Krystal Hamburgers. Enough said. Anyhow, on with the story. This guy was VERY impressed with the whole package...food, service, ambiance, the whole 9 and said so more than once. I mention that he was 'in the biz' for a reason. Folks who work in restaurants are a bunch of picky bitches. Myself included. We rarely kick back and relax when dining out because we're always 'working', looking for ideas, looking for chinks in the armor. So, a guy from DC was really excited about our product. Cool. The part that made his eyebrows raise up the most was the fact that we were 'homegrown'. My sous chef Scott went to the neighboring high school and most likely threw candy corn in my tuba during the Halloween parade when we were kids. My cold-side guy just graduated from Hanover High School after spending this past school year washing dishes for free because he wanted the experience. He's amazing. Waitstaff, we've got a set of twins who graduated one year behind me in high school, a kid from Littlestown who hadn't waited a table in his life before he came to us and now can work the dining room by himself on slower nights. We've got a guy who came to us from Bakersfield, CA, by way of Las Vegas and has been working in restaurants in the Hanover area so long that he's an honorary citizen....Home Grown. That's what we present every night. A true expression of the area. The personality of the area. Not just with food, but with service and ambiance. Each one of us presents the best expression of the area and together we are greater than the sum of our parts. For those folks who eat at TGIMcFunsters and think it's a great expression of the area, remember this. Those places actually have their staff wear buttons to provide some flair and personality. 'Pieces of flair' belong on Facebook, not on waitstaff. I'm not saying eating at those places is bad, it's just below average. It's cheap, sort of consistent and soulless, but mostly it's cheap.
Where the hell am I going with this?!?!?!?!? Here's what I'm trying to say. We're putting a really good product out every night and the right people are starting to notice( by right people, I mean the folks who don't ask 'why's that place so expensive? I can go to Ryan's steakhouse and eat till I vomit all over my wife for $9.99') We've all been through a lot of shit to get where we are, but, how about this? The same core staff is still here. Two years later and the same faces still cook your food, greet you at the door and take care of the 'details'. That is almost unheard of in the restaurant business and it's not because working at The Mansion is all hugs and puppies. It's not, believe me. It's because as a group we believe in each other and are proud to present a part of ourselves and in turn a part of the area every day. Homegrown.