- Luke Awtry
- Charles Spock
Charles Spock, of the Big Spruce and Hatchet Tap and Table, both in Richmond, recently turned 40. The chef and co-owner always imagined having a restaurant by that milestone. "And here I am with two. Maybe a little more than I bargained for," Spock said with a chuckle.
Spock shared some news and behind-the-scenes insights with Seven Days.
SEVEN DAYS: You've got something new, the Parlour Room, opening this month?
CHARLES SPOCK: We have this chunk of space at the back [of the Big Spruce] that we've turned into a 30-person event space.
It's a place where you can come and celebrate a special event or where we can do tastings, pairing dinners and fun stuff that doesn't fit into our two restaurants, like a small-plates menu paired with different mezcals, a ticketed event. We might take a mezcal that's exceptionally smoky and pair it with a chile sweet potato and smoked short rib and some really bright [salsa] verde to cut through all that.
SD: What's been your biggest challenge over the last two years?
CS: Being able to meet expectations with less has been difficult — our staff's expectations and customers' expectations. Like, "We only have two servers on tonight. I'm sorry, we don't have a way to seat you," and keeping the staff protected from people who are upset by whatever practices we have in place.
And you never know when you're not going to get deliveries of food or paper goods. It's been pretty chaotic.
SD: Has the pandemic forever changed the restaurant industry?
CS: It has to change to keep restaurants in business. Prices are changing, and there are going to be QR codes [instead of paper menus], because it's just easier to manage that with less staff.
As far as how staff is treated, I think that is changing. A lot of people left not because they didn't want to work in restaurants but because they were tired of getting abuse on both ends: [from] customers and owners.
You know, it's not that hard to be nice.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity and length.