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The City Journals

Draper restaurants weather the pandemic and prepare for Valentine’s Day

Feb 10, 2021 01:28PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Ridge Café welcomes guests. (Photo courtesy Michelle Crossley, Ridge Café)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

According to the National Restaurant Association, Valentine’s Day is the second-most popular day for dining out. This year, some things may look a little different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but many people will still go out to enjoy a romantic meal in a local restaurant. 

Draper’s eateries have been kept in business thanks to the support of loyal customers in the community. With precautionary measures in place to keep diners safe, several of Draper’s restaurants are offering special menus for the upcoming holiday.

"We've been very grateful for Draper, the community has been very supportive. They've kept us in business," said Executive Chef Ryan Nelson at OAK Wood Fire Kitchen.

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen is a casual restaurant with a wood fire oven specializing in pizzas, breads, house-made pastas and fresh meats. Nelson explained that the restaurant has taken many steps to provide diners with a safer experience. 

"We have 'no touch' menus," he explained. "There's a QR code you scan with your phone to see the menu." In addition to all staff and guests being required to wear masks, tables are set at least 6 feet apart. Tables and chairs are sanitized between guests and the restaurant’s capacity has been reduced to 30 seats. 

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Valentine’s Day weekend, OAK Wood Fire Kitchen will offer a special three-course meal. Reservations are required. 

Diners can expect an elegant evening out at The Charleston where Executive Chef and owner Marco Silva is planning a Valentine’s Day menu which may include offerings such as scallops, foie gras and black Russian caviar. The restaurant, housed in a brick home from the 19th century, offers continental cuisine under sparkling chandeliers. Silva and his team have been working hard to ensure that guests have a refined dining experience that is also safe. 

In addition to staff and guests being required to wear masks, tables and other surfaces in the restaurant are continually sanitized. Seating has been reduced and the tables are set 10 to 12 feet apart. “I take my job very seriously,” Silva said. “This is my house, and I have to take care of my employees and my guests.” 

His loyal clientele appreciate the effort. “We had the most beautiful summer because everyone felt safe here,” he added. Although a couple of guests balked at the mask requirements, “ninety-nine percent of our regulars were super happy because we take so much care,” he said.

“I am so grateful for the Draper and Sandy communities,” Silva said. “During the time we were closed, families were buying take-out. We were closed for 45 days. The day we reopened, 72 families came.” 

Anthony Crossley, food and beverage director and general manager of Ridge Café also expressed gratitude to the community for their support. “We actually did a lot better than I thought we would,” he said. The Suncrest community enjoyed take-out family meals from Ridge Café during the early months of the pandemic. 

During the shut-down, “we took advantage of the time to totally revamp our menu,” explained Crossley. The centerpiece of the kitchen is a large brick wood fire pizza oven imported from Italy. The current menu is focused on Mediterranean dishes. 

“We follow health department guidelines,” said Crossley of the café’s response to the pandemic. The restaurant operates at half-capacity and has a reservation system in place. “The winter used to be our party season,” he said. “We don’t book those anymore.”

Ridge Café will offer a Valentine’s Day special on Feb. 12 and 13. “We’re going to one of our wonderful local bakeries to get special desserts as well,” Crossley said. He recommends that diners call for reservations.

“Anyone going out to any restaurant should be thinking about making a reservation as soon as possible,” advised Catesby Carman, assistant general manager at The Cliff Dining Pub.  

She admits that while the pandemic has been hard, she said, “The key to our success, what’s been getting us through, are the fantastic regulars who live in Draper.” 

Carman also praised the staff with ensuring the pub’s ongoing success. “After being shut down for two months, we asked everyone if they wanted to come back and almost everybody did,” she said. “Our staff is great!”

The Cliff Dining Pub is taking the same safety precautions as other restaurants regarding mask-wearing, hand-washing, sanitizing tables and chairs and social distancing. In addition, “the patio is beautiful all year round,” Carman said. Even in the winter months, some hardy souls enjoy sunsets by the fire pits on the patio. 

The menu at The Cliff Dining Pub borrows from cuisines from around the world and includes sushi. The regular menu will be available over Valentine’s Day weekend with a few added specials. 

Carman suggested that people be flexible when it comes to making reservations for Feb. 14. After all, it’s not about the particular date but who you’re spending it with. “You can celebrate Valentine’s Day on any day with your significant other,” she said. “It can be just as good or even better on a different day.” 

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen is located at 715 E. 12300 South. Call 801-996-8155 or visit oakwoodfirekitchen.com for reservations and more information. The address for The Charleston is 1229 Pioneer Road. Visit thecharlestondraper.com or call 801-550-9348 for reservations. Ridge Café is located at 14886 Traverse Ridge Road. Call 801-571-8000 or visit ridgecafe.com for reservations and more information. Diners can make reservations for The Cliff Dining Pub at cliffdiningpub.com or call 801-523-2053. It is located at 12234 Draper Gate Drive. All of the above restaurants offer take-out options as well.