Are you a fan of Gemma, Allison Yoder and Stephen Rogers' laid-back yet polished modern American place on Henderson? If you love it as much as I do, you'll be excited to hear that the couple plans to open a new restaurant — Sachet — featuring a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Yoder and Rogers have signed a lease in the Shops at Highland Park, the Oak Lawn shopping center, where Carbone's Fine Food and Wine, Madrina, TJ's Seafood Market and Grill and the Mint will be their neighbors. (The shopping center is turning into quite the food-lovers' destination!) The project is just at the beginning stages of planning, says Yoder; they don't even have their permits yet.
Yoder answered questions about the project, which Culture Map was first to report.
Beyond the basics, what else can you tell me about Sachet? When do you hope to open?
"I'd say springtime — we're hoping springtime. If all goes well. And the capacity — seating — we're probably going to do 100 seats that include a 20-seat bar. It'll be Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. It's all around the Mediterranean Sea, which is really Italian, French, Spain, Greece, a little North African cuisine. We wanted to have more options as far as food goes. It's more affordable pricing, more casual, and we probably will be open for lunch, which is a little different than Gemma. We'll open for dinner, and then lunch eventually."
Will the menu be more expansive, larger than Gemma's?
"Definitely a larger menu, yes."
Are there ideas that chef Rogers is playing or considering that you can tell me about?
"Nothing in particular yet; he's literally working on it now."
I'm always skeptical when restaurateurs start opening new places. How worried are you (or are you not) about being stretched too thin?
"We've always known we wanted to open another one from the beginning. That's always been part of the plan. We're very cautious about opening — we waited three years to even get to this point. It's all about training, and training your current staff, which is what we have been doing at Gemma. We're always training people, seeing who can move up, who can't."
Will you be mostly at Sachet as it gets off the ground? What will happen at Gemma?
"We're gonna go back and forth. Stephen was also front-of-the-house manager before being a chef. He can be at one restaurant while I'm at the other restaurant. That's the great thing about being married and owning a restaurant. In the beginning, we'll be more at Sachet obviously, training staff."
Who will be executive chef at Gemma and at Sachet?
"We're not sure yet. Stephen will be chef-owner and doing all the menus, but we're not sure."
How concerned are you about hiring and retaining skilled staff in such a stressed labor market?
"We've thought about that. There's a shortage, but again, we really believe in training people. I feel like you've seen a lot of restaurants do it and they were able to make it work. There's a shortage everywhere in the county. At Press in Napa, there was always that problem. It was hard to get people to move to Napa who could to afford to live there. We made it work. You just have to be awake as owners and managers."