… damn it … sorry … but I just read Ed Stansel’s re-post of Gary T. Mills’s article about the closing of Speckled Hen Tavern:
… damn it … sorry again …
It’s not that I visited the place often – actually only once. But it is saddening to learn of the demise of a “brews and chews” establishment in our community – especially one (selfishly speaking) which offered a respectable array of craft beer.
My first and apparently now my ONLY visit was way back on July 26, 2012 – and I DID prepare an unpublished blog post.
“Unpublished” because my experience was not that enjoyable – and because I had included the reasons for it being so underwhelming – and because I WANTED to love the place – and because I BELIEVED I COULD love the place – and because I am of the opinion any place deserves a second chance.
In fairness, there WERE some highlights, also – the beers we ordered for instance (copied and pasted from the unpublished post):
“We decided to sit at the bar which gave us a good view of the good beer selection in draft and bottles available at Speckled Hen Tavern and Grille.
Companion opted nostalgically for Old Speckled Hen since this was his favorite bottled beer in 2005. He was excited they had it on nitro in draft form and later said now that he had tasted it from the tap, he might be spoiled away from the bottled variety of this brew, described on Old Speckled Hen’s (Greene King Brewery) website:
Old Speckled Hen
Old Speckled Hen has a full, smooth flavour and is very easy to drink. Its rich amber colour and superb fruity aromas are complemented by a delicious blend of malty tastes. Toffee and malt combine with bitterness on the back of the tongue to give a balanced sweetness. This, all followed by a refreshingly dry finish.
I looked through their beer selections (over 80 counting taps and bottled crafts) and finally settled on (description per brewery’s website):
Bell’s Brewery Pale Ale
Pale Ale stands apart from the model of completely hop-dominated pale ales, offering a noticeable degree of malt body to counter the hop bitterness. A blend of floral & herbal hop notes provide the aromatic & flavor highlights, alongside the distinctive contribution of our house ale yeast. A crisp bitterness finishes the experience without being harsh.”
What issues did I have? … well, the bartender, for one thing:
“Our bartender was friendly, efficient and excited about an upcoming gig he and his band had. Although he spent most of our time there in discussion with a couple of regulars, he made sure we had what we needed.”
This was a nice way of saying as first-time visitors, NO effort was made to make us feel welcome – and he wasn’t that knowledgeable about the craft beers on top of that. I also had to almost drag answers out of him … aggravating. And by the way, ALMOST A YEAR LATER, I still remember that.
The half-price appetizers were certainly “appetizing” in their descriptions – but had a “freezer burn” taste to them. Granted, we were there early but …
So, here’s just my “two cents” … and keep in mind I have NO idea why Speckled Hen Tavern closed – they may be planning a regeneration elsewhere for all I know – but here we go:
1) I don’t believe there was ENOUGH of a focus on the promotion of available craft beer at Speckled Hen Tavern. Especially back in the summer of 2012, Speckled Hen could have touted the quantity and quality of craft beer then currently housed within their coolers and taps. Beer Dinners should have been presented – weekly beer events should have been coordinated with their distributor(s) and then broadcasted out in the most effective forum available – tastings should have been scheduled with details flooding the advertising venues.
2) I believe ANY bartender about to be “rolled out on stage” to serve the Jacksonville craft beer lovin’ public should be trained about the beer he or she will be slingin’ – at least a short but accurate description , ABV, IBUs and size of pour.
3) Special attention should ALWAYS be paid to first-time visitors. Look, we ALL want to become “regulars” as soon as financially possible at any place we frequent – BUT – during a FIRST visit, folks want to know their patronage is appreciated. They also want to know “the skinny” on the establishment – Happy Hour details, hours, Sunday Brunch details , frequent-beer-buyer programs, etc. – AND YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DIG THE DAMN INFORMATION OUT OF THEM … sorry …
The menu looked phenomenal by the way – and we planned on giving Speckled Hen Tavern a serious second chance. Of course, there aren’t enough “hours in the day” or “dollars in the wallet” – or “stomachs and livers in a human body” to hit all the bars and restaurants in our area. Our second visit was on our radar –it just hadn’t happened to date.
You lean and hungry entrepreneurs out there – waiting for your chance at the “Brews and Chews Pie” in the Greater Jacksonville area – take 1) through 3) to heart before you open. If you do, you’ll see a steady stream of craft beer lovers spending their hard-earned money with YOU. Remember, I never want to read an article about the demise of what YOU worked so hard for … NEVER …
Crap! … I already miss Speckled Hen Tavern – I would have ended up loving it one day, I know …
… damn it …
Posted on May 21, 2013