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Pandemic helps Henderson restaurant get new digs

Updated August 13, 2020 - 2:20 pm

Matthew Meyer is the rare restaurant owner who actually sees a bright side to the business effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was a blessing,” Meyer said.

His former restaurant, Served, was in the back of an office park on Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. It didn’t front on Horizon Ridge, so the following that Meyer managed to build in the four years he was there had to work to find him.

The new restaurant, which will be called Served Global Cuisine, is in a much more visible shopping center at the intersection of Horizon Ridge Parkway and Stephanie Street, in the former location of Ta Ta Asian Bistro. It’ll be about 5,200 square feet, compared with the original’s 1,600.

“It was terrible, to say the least,” he said of the old spot. “But I guess I got a start there. I was able to build some clientele and kind of test the market. I’m really excited to open this new place. If not for everything that’s going on right now, I would not have been able to secure it.”

Since he had no lease, once he knew he would be able to benefit from some Small Business Administration programs, he was able to serve notice and plan the move.

Meyer said he was undercapitalized when he opened the first restaurant, and his loans were short term and high interest, so he never was able to earn anything himself.

For three of the four years he operated the old Served, Meyer was negotiating with an investor. They actually were planning to buy Ta Ta, but the investor dropped out at the last minute. When Meyer found out, three days after he received the SBA money, that the restaurant had closed and the lease was available, he made his move.

“I couldn’t have said things could have gone any better,” he said.

He’s not daunted by the size of the new place because it’s being configured by WHL Design Group in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines. It will have 77 seats, compared with about 40 in the original Served.

“Mine and other restaurants that are being designed at this time can be designed around these restrictions, and then hopefully when the restrictions are lifted, they can go back to full capacity,” he said.

And he sees another plus.

“Being designed around those restrictions is going to make people more comfortable,” Meyer said.

The new restaurant — he’s shooting for an opening date of about Oct. 15 — will have a sleek design in soft neutrals. It’ll have a bar area with full alcohol service, a raw bar and private dining rooms, where he plans to have live entertainment on weekends and during Sunday brunch.

The dinner menu will include such dishes as a short rib grilled cheese with fermented mushrooms, red-wine-braised goat and a veggie Wellington. Brunch dishes will be the likes of a dozen Benedicts including duck (with or without foie gras or duck pate), Green Eggs & Spam and a Salvadoran breakfast of two cheese pupusas, braised beef barbacoa, curtido cabbage slaw and a sunny-side-up egg.

But one vestige of the Asian restaurant will remain: the teppan tables. Meyer intends to use them for a sort of chef’s table feature during brunch and dinner. He plans to sell seats at the tables for a prix fixe menu of four to six courses, which will be available a la carte in the rest of the restaurant.

“It’ll be a full, interactive chef cooking experience,” he said. “No onion volcanoes; none of that stuff. Really nice, high-end, intricate presentations.”

A sample menu lists the grilled cheese plus seared foie gras with rice pancake and kimchi, pork belly and polenta, a seared scallop taco and seared sweet potato and mushroom cannelloni.

And Meyer plans to bring in outside talent.

“I’m reaching out to people who really want to put out interesting food,” Meyer said. “I want it to be a breeding ground for culinary talent. It’s just about putting out really cool, interesting food.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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