KING CITY — The Cork & Plough restaurant in King City will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Valentine’s Day.
The restaurant has maintained a rotating seasonal menu in coordination with local growers and producers, and will have a special menu not only for the romantic holiday, but also to celebrate the five-year milestone.
“Valentine’s Day is always our biggest day, so we’ve got our best people and a full crew on staff for Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” said co-owner Travis Childers. “We’re working on developing a whole new menu just for that night.”
In addition to the menu, the restaurant is introducing a new wine called Anna’s Blend, the result of a collaboration between Val du Soleil Winery, winemaker Johnathan Walton and co-owner Anna Timoshenko.
“All three courses are going to pair with that blend,” Childers said.
Beyond the Valentine’s celebration, the new wine will be carried at the restaurant. The local collaboration is part of the restaurant’s continuing use of local ingredients.
“From the beginning five years ago, the cornerstone of our concept was promoting local products and supporting local farmers and producers,” Childers said.
Having previously come from Seattle, Childers took what he learned of cooking and Timoshenko took what she learned of wine stewarding to King City.
“The local food movement was really popular in Seattle when I was there and that was something we wanted to bring here,” Childers said, noting that Seattle restaurants call food local if it’s from a 350-mile radius of the restaurant. “Here, I can get food from 10 miles down the road.” He added, “There’s so much produce and such long growing seasons.”
Tomatoes were one example, which have a three- to four-month growing season in Washington, but in California are available for nine months.
“You have all this great stuff all year round in this area,” Childers said. “That’s what we really wanted to show off, not just for the locals but for the people that are passing through who might not be from this area and who might not be familiar with what South County is all about.”
Childers explained half the business comes from locals and half from travelers passing through along the highway. He said a common response is to hear someone say they came based on what they read on Yelp or Google.
“Thirty or 40 years ago in the restaurant industry, if you wanted that kind of business, you needed a sign that was visible from the freeway or a billboard. Now it’s all on social media,” he said.
People giving feedback online, especially social media, has been of help for the restaurant, he explained.
“A big part of what’s generated our growth in the last five years is people coming in for the first time, having an amazing experience, telling all their friends, and then their friends come in,” Childers said.
Having a changing menu also keeps things interesting for locals, Childers explained. The restaurant has a rotation of four menus per year, which was developed in part because of the partnership with local growers.
“The farmers that I work with, they only grow so much and it’s all seasonal, so by virtue of the fact that I’m working with them, my menu is seasonal,” Childers said.
In addition to the menu of food items connecting to local growers, Childers said the cocktail program and drinks at the bar include local ingredients when possible. For example, in the past a grower could produce more berries to sell to the restaurant.
“Let’s find ways to incorporate berries into not just our food, but our cocktails as well,” Childers said of his team’s response. “We really do try to treat the bar the same way we do the kitchen. It should be fresh, it should be local. I feel like both locals and travelers both notice that. They know they’re getting quality.”
Looking to the future, Childers said he’s excited to see the city’s changes on Broadway Street, with his restaurant on the Broadway edge of Town Square.
“What they’re working towards is making the downtown Broadway area something that will draw more people in, and we really see ourselves as an important part of that,” Childers said.
“We really appreciate all the support from the local community,” he added.
Whether locals or travelers, Childers said the restaurant will do what it can to make sure diners keep coming back.