The frequently asked...
I'm sure you're all wondering, how did the idea for this concept come about?
Well, we wanted to have a dim sum experience that was approachable. People come in and they're starving. By the time you sit, order, get drinks, and wait for food, it's been 30 minutes before you actually eat. We were trying to alleviate that. The cart idea was for people that want to eat now.
For those of you who haven't visited, our restaurant is quite large and a lot of people consistently asked if we were worried if the dining concept was going to work with such this space? Because it is a large space, you have to have energy regardless of the time of day. Our carts create this movement, this flow, and energy. People are always on their phones waiting for their food. The carts enable people to get food right away. But we still want people to enjoy the space, the ambiance, music, and service. People aren't really lingering, but we're not trying to be a turn-and-burn type place.
It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, what's the average wait for four?
If we're being honest, if you walk in, you're probably not going to get a table. We can put you on a list and realistically you'll get a table after 10 p.m., so at least a two hour wait. It's better to have reservations. The bar does seat 34 people, and we try to utilize the long tables, but we don't cram the seats in here. The best time to land a table is between 5:30 and 7 p.m (if you're a walk-in).
What's the capacity of The Church Key? We can seat over 200. The capacity is actually 340 in 6,600 square feet. It's gigantor! We thought about how we could create energy. 50 people could make it look empty and we wanted to make sure we could always stay full. Also, the check average is about $55 to $60, with food costs at around 32%, which is high. But we'd rather have a packed restaurant than an empty one that has 28% food cost.
The most frequently asked...What's good on the menu right now? From the kitchen we have 16 items and we have 17 items on the carts, which change every night. That enables the kitchen to be creative and have fun. It's a shared plates concept, not small plates. People are not going to leave here hungry, they're going to be fed. The kitchen dishes are more family style while the cart items are a supplement, more snacky things. The pig ear cheetos and falafel have a following. They are must trys! We always recommend the chicken liver pate, crispy pork belly, and tai snapper tapioca.
What the deal with our beverage cart? We make otter pop and canned cocktails on the cart. We have servers dress up as Pan Am stewardesses. Why? Well, our executive staff has a love for the 50s and 60s. The Church Key comes from that. Pre 1960s, you needed a church key to open a can of beer. The Pan Am part comes from the fact that they were the epitome of service. So we're making classic 1990s cocktails like the Apple Martini, Lemon Drop, and Sex on the Beach. People love them, it's a fun new way of drinking. We give people a church key to crack open the canned cocktails themselves.
I'm sure you're surprised that our cocktails are so cheap, aren't ya? Well, we fell there's no need to overcharge. It's becoming ridiculous when Grey Goose martinis cost $16. There's no need for that. We all have Excel spreadsheets, but at the end of the day, it's about doing what's right for the guests.
Wine or cocktails?! We sell way more cocktails, we have great wine as well. People get hooked on cocktails. It's so different. Our Beverage Director has training in the culinary sense, so he understands pairing cocktails with food. The Fashioned Chai and Shut the Funk Up are popular, but the Pink Lips is the number one seller. It's made with Grey Goose pear, champagne, and pomegranate seeds on the bottom. It's intended to be a girly drink, but everyone enjoys them, especially as a start to a meal.
Want to know whats next? So do we! Because this place is ours, we're not going to beat ourselves up and get burned out. We want to come to work and enjoy what we do. We're going to push the envelope and be creative for YOU! We believe this is a replicable concept, but we wouldn't just put this anywhere. So you may or may not see another Church Key pop up in another area...After all...We're all about surprises!