Takoma Park’s Republic is a crowd favorite and an integral part of the community there. This year, the hard work of the staff and the nature of the eatery as a local hangout was recognized with a 2017 RAMMY award at the must-attend gala. In this interview with Danny Wells, executive chef, we dive deeper into what makes Republic stand out during brunch and what lessons the popular eatery can offer up as a result of its success.
Eatery Pulse News: First of all, what was your reaction after winning the Casual Brunch of the Year Award at the 2017 RAMMYS?Chef Danny Wells: The RAMMYS are always fun —great bonding with your staff and fellow D.C. industry friends. They’re definitely more exciting when you’re nominated and winning is what really makes it a party. It was great to win for 2017
Casual Brunch because 1) it was a readers choice category and b) our staff that works brunch are our unsung heroes. Most of them also work Saturday night so to turn around after the busiest night and be right back the next morning, bringing positive energy is a difficult feat.
What is it about your brunch that you feel draws a crowd and keeps people coming back?DW: We have lots of great brunch regulars. People come back because our menu is broad with something for everyone. The year-round Takoma Park Farmers Market every Sunday helps keep the the block busy, too.
Please share with us some of your top brunch and dinner dishes that are popular.DW: Our biscuit breakfast sandwich, bbq shrimp with grilled pork belly, and the seasonal vegetable hash are our most popular brunch items.
How do you engage your customers on Facebook and social media to promote brunch, when the weekend has so many other options for diners and their attention may be on other entertainment options?DW: We like to post food pics, always showing off our favorite local ingredients and tagging the farms from which we get them. Our brunch staff enjoys posting group selfies as well.
What are ways to stand out at brunch—things that you have learned and other restaurant operators could learn from?DW: Having several vegetarian options at brunch is a good way to set your menu apart.
How do you keep the brunch and dinner menus fresh? And can you give us a preview of some holiday or winter items being considered.DW: Local ingredients drive all of our menus. We are right in the middle of the fall season, so lot’s of amazing peppers, hot and sweet are all over our menus, as are sweet potatoes. Those two ingredients are brought together in our sweet potato gnocchi dish at dinner. It comes with hazelnuts, peachy mama peppers and Parmesan.
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