Less than a year after it opened with a concept and menu developed by local celebrity chef Tyler Florence, Hawk’s Tavern is no more.
The restaurant at 507 Miller Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Dish closed on Nov. 6 in an abrupt move by its partners, according to Rick Ronald, who was brought in last December to run Hawk’s Tavern and co-owns the building with Mike House. Ronald said the partners planned to give the restaurant until the end of the year to turn things around, then moved that deadline to the end of November and finally made the call to pull the plug at the close of business on Election Day.
“It was just pure economics,” Ronald said. “We were just losing so much money every week that it looked like we were not going to be able to turn it around. We were going to have to put a lot more money into it. It just wasn’t in the cards.”
Hawk’s Tavern made its much-publicized debut in December 2011, 18 months after Dish had opened in the same streetfront space in the Tamalpais Commons development. Bungalow 44 and Buckeye Roadhouse restaurateur Peter Schumacher, who was both an investor in and the manager of Dish, did not stay on in a management role with Hawk’s Tavern.
Instead, House and Ronald took the reins, handing over the keys to Florence to develop a concept and menu of “seasonally inspired pub fare.” Florence’s consulting deal with Hawk’s Tavern ended in June.
Although the restaurant went through a number of executive chefs in its less than one year of existence, Ronald said food was never the problem. The menu morphed a few times, from small plate-dominated selections to more traditional fare. But poor service prevented enough returning customers, Ronald said, and also they weren’t turning over tables quickly enough and weren’t serving customers with young children fast enough.
But the biggest driver of the closure, he said, was never gaining enough control over their high costs.
“There are a lot of reasons but quite honestly the biggest one was poor management on our part,” he said. “We always struggled with service. The last few weeks, the food was the best it’s been.”
Ronald said he and House are hoping to land a third party to bring a restaurant into the space as a tenant. They’re listening to ideas now but have no timetable for getting a new restaurant open.
Ronald said one of the partners’ early plans were to take advantage of the space’s location and push a strong takeout food component.
“But we wanted to make sure we have the operations inside the four walls down first, and it just never got to that point,” he said.
The 411: Hawk’s Tavern was located at 507 Miller Avenue. Ronald said there are a number of outstanding gift certificates to the restaurant and that he intends to reimburse people for them. If you have an unredeemed gift card to Hawk’s Tavern, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can connect you to Ronald.