By Ben Olson
Before it was a popular restaurant on First Avenue, Beet and Basil was created as a food truck, offering world cuisine and fine dining in a fast casual atmosphere. As business exploded from the food truck, it became evident that a brick-and-mortar restaurant was the next step in the evolution of the business, which is when Beet and Basil moved into its current location at the intersection of Pine Street and First Avenue, where it thrived.
However, suffering staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic — coupled with one of the busiest summers ever witnessed in Sandpoint — owners Jeremy Holzapfel and Jessica Vouk and closed down to regroup at the end of the summer, with the hopes of reformatting the restaurant to fit the unique challenges posed by the times.
After some much-needed rest, husband-and-wife Holzapfel and Vouk took stock of how they could reopen the restaurant while maintaining the same level of service and expectations their customers require. The result is the restaurant reopening with a take-out only format designed to bring fan favorites back to life, as well as offer more opportunities for unique entrees and appetizers that didn’t always see the light of day before.
Beet and Basil will now offer take-out every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a new menu coming out each week, which customers can either pre-order or come in to order and have a drink at the bar while their food is being prepared.
“We want the menu to be ever-changing so we can keep it exciting as well as deal with item outages that are happening with supply chains,” Holzapfel told the Reader. “We can make it so the menu doesn’t get flat because it’s a limited menu. That’s what we can do and handle with a smaller crew.”
Holzapfel said every menu will have some of the hits among customers, such as the kung pao cauliflower or chicken vindaloo bowl, but will also feature exciting new creations.
“It keeps it so our customers can look back and say, ‘This week isn’t for us, maybe some other week will be,’” Holzapfel said.
The change of format also allows Vouk, who is the head chef and creator of the menu items, to have more creativity to share new entrees.
The full service bar will remain open Wednesday through Friday, 4-7 p.m., with cocktails, beer and wine for sale for those ordering or waiting for their pre-order.
“Now the convenience is to order a day before, or the day of, and maybe make a meal plan for the week,” Holzapfel said. “Our customers can pick up food after work, and come in to get a martini or an old-fashioned while they wait for their food.”
Some specialty cocktails will also be available to go each week through the online menu, and each menu will be posted at the beginning of the week on their website (beetandbasil.net), Facebook and Instagram. Also, if customers would like the menu emailed to them weekly, all they need to do is visit the website to sign up and they’ll receive it in their inbox when the menu is released.
Each week the rotating menu will offer three or four entrees, a couple of handhelds, a couple of appetizers, and a couple of soups and desserts.
“The thing we’ve been really trying to focus on is maintaining inclusivity — shared items, meat dishes, vegan dishes, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free options,” Holzapfel said. “Jessica has been pretty intentional with the menu design.”
Holzapfel said the decision to halt regular restaurant hours at the end of summer was vital, since worker shortages made staffing the restaurant a difficult task every night.
“We had no staff,” Holzapfel said. “We lost all of our staff and now we’re operating with six of us, which is kind of crazy. We’re a pop-up inside our own restaurant. We’re the food truck again, but inside the restaurant. It’s allowing us to watch and figure out what’s happening in Sandpoint. With us to try and keep going with no staff and not meeting our customers’ expectations was not acceptable for us. With this model we can achieve what our customers expect and we can meet their expectations every time.”
Along with the take-out format, Beet and Basil is available for private parties and events — not just three days a week, either.
“People can call and reserve Christmas parties or private events anytime,” Holzapfel said. “You can do buffet-style, cocktail parties, catered dinners. We can pull together event staff no problem, so these are things we can achieve.”
Holzapfel said the six weeks off was a “fantastic” break.
“It was a really good reset,” he said. “It’s really hard to make decisions while you’re struggling every day and you’re underwater, getting basic food items out and understaffed every single day. When we stopped and reset, we took ourselves out of the equation and saw what actually could work. That’s why when we stopped we told everyone that it was, ‘To be continued.’ We had to take time to figure that out and take time for what’s best for our family.”
To check out the weekly menu at Beet and Basil, visit beetandbasil.net, where you can order online through their portal. Menus will also be posted on Facebook and Instagram each week.
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