In the early days of this (and its preceding) blog, I used to do a year-end post or posts, recapping not just events with our restaurants, but also books, music, and anything that made me think.
Since we uprooted our existence a few years back and set about a new course, life’s come at us not only fast but differently. Now, year-end wrap-ups don’t invite me in the same way they once did. That said, a lot of interesting, exciting stuff has happened here the last six months or so.
A little backstory: by the end of January last year, we had enough information to know that our newly-opened restaurant Salsipuedes wasn’t on track to work financially. It was an all-or-nothing moment for the partners — we could either double down on the work required to make an unsuccessful restaurant successful, or we could close it and do other things with our time. All three of us, each having our own reasons, chose the latter.
What did I do with my Salsipuedes time divended? A few things, but mostly I spent it at The Half Orange. Because in the course of all this opening-and-closing-of-restaurants, it became obvious to me and Katie that we have a really special connection with The Half Orange and with Fruitvale. And the opportunity we have to make this restaurant a deep, joyous nexus for a lot of things we love in this community, is a very rare opportunity to be treasured indeed.
We’ve come to see the Half Orange as a gathering and leisure space centered on fresh, delicious beer. We love wine and cider too — and I think we’ve rounded out our selection of both into something really strong — but beer uniquely stands as relatively affordable product that is best when made and consumed locally. It’s nice to be able share a pitcher of impeccably satisfying brew for a little over $20.
This newly-clarified vision of the restaurant brought our food into focus as well. We saw that continually bringing on new dishes for variety’s sake isn’t the best use of our energy. Instead, we’ve worked to create a menu of about twenty diverse dishes (especially including vegetarian and gluten-free) that all go well with drinks. We’re keeping our commitment to making everything by hand from great ingredients, of course, but only in the service of a simple, unified, crave-able cuisine. You’ll also continue to see subtle changes in the menu with the seasons, too.
Basically, with our food, we’re focused solely on giving you something you’ll love to eat while you’re enjoying your time here. And as a culinary team, we just want to make sure every dish is the best version of itself possible, and that we execute it as well as possible every time.
We’ve come a ways along from the old Linkery days when we’d have a new menu twice a day! Those were great times too, this is just a different restaurant.
In the broader context of Fruitvale Village and the Fruitvale Public Market, this may be quite an exciting year. There’s a lot of energy afoot right now to enhance the plaza area, making it into a first-class public space serving the whole community. We live in a time and place where truly great public spaces are very rare; if this comes to fruition it will be a true gift to all of us.
So that’s what I’ve been up to, and why I’m excited about this year at The Half Orange. I hope you’ll be a part of it!