Owner Garland Taylor (left) and chef Tim Bereika ready Union Table & Tap for its February opening. (Photo: Bethany Silva)
The news of The Urban Tavern's closing came suddenly, and it looks as though the space's new concept, Union Table & Tap, is following suit in speedy delivery (though much happier in its news). Already slated for a Thursday, Feb. 4 opening, the new Henrico County restaurant is expected to offer a warmer, more relaxed feel than its predecessor, with more of a neighborhood-spot vibe, according to owner Garland Taylor.
"We built Urban Tavern and I loved everything that we did. We executed it in the way that I thought it should be, we did market research, but when we turned the lights on and said 'Come on in,' there were great reviews, but the reviews that mattered most were that the people come, and we just didn't get the traction that we needed," says Taylor. "So we watched and made some adjustments and then we came to the conclusion that that concept might be better suited for a different market."
Taylor says he's still looking for a location in which to reopen The Urban Tavern, and is considering Carytown, downtown and Scott's Addition — among other neighborhoods — though he hasn't yet found the right space or opportunity yet. That, he says, will come later. For now, he's focusing on opening Union.
Those familiar with the original Urban Tavern menu, or with chef Tim Bereika's skilled hand, will be thrilled to hear that Bereika is also helming this concept with a few Urban Tavern favorites of yore (charcuterie and cheese boards) but adding more comfort food such as a double-crusted chicken pot pie, chicken-fried pork loin, and green chile mac 'n' cheese. He's also bringing seven varieties of burgers, an array of wings, braised short rib nachos, chorizo sliders and smoked mahi tacos to the Table. It's elevated bar fare, but Taylor wants to get one thing straight: It's not upscale.
"This is Americana and I want to do good food," Taylor says. "But I don't want to do food where you need to bring a dictionary to the table to understand what it's all about. If it's good, the customer is gonna tell you because they're gonna come back." He wants a laid-back atmosphere, and food without fuss. "We have a no-nonsense menu," he adds.
The concept's name is rooted in "union": a space where guests can come and meet, as well as Taylor's nexus of food and craft beer. As an owner of three Hometeam Grills, he's taken note of what works in creating a neighborhood-spot atmosphere — the number-one request from Urban Tavern's visitors who voiced what they feel their community needs. To help achieve this, Taylor and his team retooled the menu and made a few interior changes (that open kitchen, for instance, is gone), plus built a 16-foot wooden American flag: a centerpiece of the dining room and the backdrop for a new stage that will host live music every weekend.
"There's no question that there's no shortage of restaurants out in Short Pump, and we are about a mile and a half from there," Taylor says. "I think if I want to be successful in that market I have to play up what we are, and that's the neighborhood place. We're gonna build that and we're committed to that."
Union Table & Tap is located at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in the Gleneagles Shopping Center, and is set to open on Thursday, Feb. 4, with hours of 4 to 11 p.m., daily. Brunch, including Saturday brunch, will possibly be launched later this year.