LARKSPUR Calif. The Lark Creek Inn, a fine-dining landmark opened here in 1989 by chef Bradley Ogden and Spectrum Foods veteran Michael Dellar, closed last weekend in preparation for a late May reopening as a more casual concept to be called The Tavern at Lark Creek.
The Tavern at Lark Creek is expected to generate a per-person check average of $35, compared with the $55 average check at The Lark Creek Inn, said Dellar, who is president and chief executive of Lark Creek Restaurant Group of San Francisco.
“The Lark Creek Inn, over the last several years, has been viewed more and more as a special occasion restaurant, as more casual occasion restaurants have come on the scene," Dellar said. "Today there are just not enough birthdays and anniversaries to keep it as vital as we’d like it to be.
“I think the trends in dining are more towards neighborhood environments in the suburbs and less fine dining," he continued. "And while we plan to offer the finest of cuisines, made from seasonal farm-to-table ingredients, and not change anything that has been our mantra for so long, we’re going to try to do it in a way that is more approachable and lower priced, with a broader based menu.”
Lark Creek Restaurant Group, which operates or manages 10 restaurants, including One Market Restaurant in San Francisco and Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, was founded by Dellar and his wife, Leslye, and Ogden and his wife, Jody. Bradley Ogden, who remains a culinary consultant, investor and director with the restaurant group, stepped away from day-to-day involvement in late 2007, Dellar said.
Adrian Hoffman, Lark Creek Restaurant Group's vice president and culinary director, is working with chef-partner Erica Holland Toll to develop the menu for The Tavern at Lark Creek. That menu will include as many as 20 appetizers and 20 entrees, sandwiches and pastas, all priced at $15 and lower, Dellar said. He noted that The Lark Creek Inn typically offered six or seven entrees and a similar number of appetizers.
The Lark Creek Inn was among the first widely acclaimed, white-tablecloth New American restaurants. But with its culinary pedigree compliments of Ogden, attention to service and relatively high price points, it was also a pioneer of sorts in the move to bring fine dining to the American suburbs when it opened in 1989 in a Victorian-era building on the registry of historic places.
Dellar said Lark Creek Restaurant Group will spend about $200,000 to update The Lark Creek Inn interior and refurbish patio furnishings, among other improvements planned for the space housing The Tavern at Lark Creek.
The Lark Creek Inn was a 1994 inductee into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.