By: RHI Solutions
Worry, uncertainty and anxiety; emotions that when felt, push us towards the comfort of a welcoming atmosphere, a friendly face and a warm meal.
But what happens when the purveyors of those commodities are the ones feeling the pinch? Well, in the case of West Seattle’s Lady Jaye they redefine the roll that a neighborhood eatery plays.
Opened in late 2019 with the hopes of becoming a funky, laid back hangout and leader in the competitive higher-end comfort food market, life-in the guise of a world-wide pandemic threw a very quick wrench into those plans.
“We talked a lot about it, and we’re just going to roll with the punches and see what everybody wants. That’s kind of been our approach with everything right now,” Lady Jaye chef and co-founder Tyler Palagi said.
It turns out, that what people want is the same high-quality, farm-sourced products that the restaurant had originally intended to serve. Problem is, how to serve it? As was the case with all Washington restaurants, the pandemic completely wiped out the option for in-house dining, and even now as the state has partially reopened, available seating is only a fraction of what it could be.
There’s always the take-out option, but that’s hardly revolutionary, and besides a chef can’t exactly guarantee a meal is being served at the optimal temperature and in the perfect setting when it’s coming from a box and being driven across town.
So how does one supply high quality meals to the community, and make sure customers are also receiving a unique experience worth paying for?
If you are Lady Jaye, you open an old-fashioned meat market. Dubbed ‘The General Store,’ the western-themed addendum to the restaurant allows customers to create experiential meals at home using all of the same locally sourced, high-grade ingredients that customers have come to expect from the establishment.
“We got a cooler and dazzled it out in our western theme. We have a super good relationship with a meat purveyor,” Palagi explained.
This allows patrons to sample something on the menu and then gives them the opportunity to recreate that same meal at home.
“So we did ribeye steaks on Friday for two people, and once they have that experience, they want to have it again, so we’ll bring those in,” Palagi said. “But we try to do some weirder cuts to try and get people to experiment too. We want to get them a little more comfortable (with different cuts of meat).”
However, as both colder weather and ‘pandemic fatigue’ set in, some customers are desperate for comfort outside of their homes.
“We sent out an email to our VIP list and asked ‘what do you want that we’re not doing, what do you want from us’ and like 85% of our people were like ‘dude I want to eat inside,’” Palagi said.
But with large scale, safe indoor dining, still being a tough sell to both customers and Lady Jaye staff, the restaurant has again opted to improvise. Enter the (almost) fully refurbished winter patio.
Semi-enclosed, rain proof and with socially distant tables, heating units and a near photo realistic mural of the Highway Men (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylen Jennings, Kris Kristofferson) on Mount Rushmore, Lady Jaye plans to continue giving folks a piece of comfort in trying times.
And though Palagi and co-owners Evan Carter, Sara Rosales and Charlie Garrison pride themselves on their improvisational business acumen, all their creativity is built on the durable shoulders of high performing, reliable kitchen equipment.
A Wolf C36S Range, and WKGD1 Convection Oven and a Vulcan MSA36 Countertop Griddle pair with the restaurant’s 2000LB smoker to create the backbone for the company’s success in trying times.