Marc Garofoli and his wife have had an adventuresome year in the restaurant industry. Not the kind of adventure all owners hope for though. On June 27, the building that served as Oak and Embers Tavern’s previous location experienced a horrific wall fire which happened during the day and forced staff and patrons to be evacuated from the building. The Tavern had significant floor damage and other damage which forced them to throw out 100 percent of their food and beverage inventory. Their insurance would never be able to compensate for all of their losses during this tragedy.
So what did Garofoli and his wife and their team do during this challenging time? They regrouped and moved to a new location. He talked about his business’s resiliency. “We aren’t one to sit back and let bad things happen, we push forward [and make good] things happen. It’s the drive that helps with our marketing.”
Short term, the Garofolis rented a mobile kitchen to sell their food. He explained, “I rented a trailer with a kitchen in it, drove it [around]. We operated out of that kitchen at the expense of about 10K per month renting that trailer.”
After that, the Garofolis found their new location; the old Spectators building. Garofoli had the building gutted and redesigned to accommodate his concept. He and his wife are veterans to the restaurant industry. “We have been involved with the business for about 20 years,” he said. “We have owned several other restaurants in the Cleveland Metropolitan Area. We’ve been traveling around South Carolina and doing research on smoke houses and barbeque. And we’ve been doing this barbeque smoke house for 10-12 years,” he said.
“I was fine with this in downtown, but always wanted to move this to the suburbs. So we got rid of everything we had downtown and moved to downtown Chesterland. It’s been an experience. Rather than stay at the old location that had the fire damage, we decided looking into moving our operation.”
He and his team have been thrilled with the results of the move. “It’s been the best thing we’ve ever done. We have a much better location and its beautiful inside. I can’t begin to tell you how great it is at our new location.”
Oak and Embers Tavern is now located on 8003 Mayfield Road, Chesterland, Ohio.
Though the Tavern may have a new location, their commitment to their customers and quality has not changed. Garofoli said, “The one thing we tell every employee when they start working for me and my wife is that there’s nothing I haven’t done in this restaurant, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do.” He added, “I am not better than them. We are all equal.” He stressed, “We all have the same goal; that’s to give the customer a good experience. That’s it.”
Garofoli stressed another thing that sets his restaurant apart is the family atmosphere. “We’ve always tried to treat our staff like family members,” he said. “Rather than scold them, we teach them how we want to give customers that ‘southern experience,’ in our restaurant.”
They came up with that “southern” concept through their travels. “We love South Carolina. We love the people down there and how [the people] interact with one another,” Garofoli said. “Being soft and gentle with others is a way of life.”
The owners and staff at Oak and Embers Tavern take great pride in their restaurant. “It’s not a monetary thing for us. We love seeing a customer come in on Monday, place an order, then he’s back on Wednesday. Then you see him later in the week with his family, and they like our food. We like making people happy. That’s our motto. We do it for the people.”
He gave advice to people interested in getting into the restaurant business. You want to, “plan, plan, plan. Get a plan in place. Work hard and don’t give up.”
He and his team love providing high quality, delicious food that makes their patrons happy. “We do it for the people,” he said. “I try to do a table touch often and hear from the customers; where they are from, how they heard about us. It’s pretty overwhelming how great these customers are.” He added, “Customers drive from Akron and other locations, not just near Chesterland, to eat at the restaurant. It’s the greatest feeling that they are coming to support our business,” he said.
Look for some exciting changes coming soon at Oak and Embers. The restaurant will feature live entertainment – blues and country bands on their new stage!
Want to learn more about Oak and Embers? Check out their website.