Tim Richardson, the new chef at the Clarion Inn and Suites, says he wants to freshen up the hotel's restaurant.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Tim Richardson, the new chef at the Clarion Inn and Suites, says he wants to freshen up the hotel's restaurant.

Starting from scratch: New Clarion chef wants to bring a fresh menu to Craig

Since New York-based Jacobs Real Estate Advisors purchased the former Holiday Inn and turned it into a Clarion Inn & Suites, the new owners have been working to revamp the establishment.

One way they’re doing that is by changing up the restaurant. Tim Richardson, their brand-new chef, is the face of that change.

Richardson, who studied at the Pennsylvania Le Cordon Bleu institute, has worked as a chef across Colorado and California.

He fondly remembers being a personal chef in Tahoe and San Diego as fulfilling a “dream job.” But even the dream job wasn’t enough to dissuade him from heading back to Colorado.

The native Ohioan considers the Centennial State his home. It was where he spent his summers and where he worked on and off throughout his career.

“It was always a dream of mine to live in Colorado,” he said. “There was something about it that really drew me out here.”

Zac Weiner, assistant director of hotels for Jacobs Real Estate Advisors, hired Richardson because he wanted to bring a creative mind in: someone who could develop a fresh and diverse, but still affordable, menu.

Weiner said Richardson has been described by staff as a “breath of fresh air.”

“To succeed in this town, you need to be creative,” Weiner said.

Richardson drove 20 hours straight from San Diego to Craig on Sunday. He landed right at a work meeting to reshape the menu.

First thing: Richardson got the kitchen ready to prepare from-scratch-only foods.

Weiner spent more than $1,500 on new pans and utensils alone, he said. Nothing on the menu would be a reheated item.

While maintaining reasonable prices, the food will be better and fresher, Weiner said.

“It’s not a different price point, but different quality,” he said.

However, while Richardson wants to bring new flavor to the community, he also intends to make food that appeals to Craig residents.

He plans to work with an “evolving menu” that changes with seasons and new ideas.

So far, Richardson has redone the menu, and it includes items such as pulled pork nachos, chipotle Caesar salad and blue cheese with bacon-stuffed chicken breast.

Richardson said it will take work to bring Craig back to the hotel to eat.

We want to “get their trust back,” he said. “You have one bad experience, you lose a customer. You have two to three, you can lose a whole town.”

Richardson is confident his kitchen will turn that around. They are reaching out with a Super Bowl party on Sunday and will show off their new food during the game.

“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks is giving back to the community,” he said.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

David Moore 6 months ago

This is great news, that restaurant has been terrible for a long time now and I have not eaten there for many years, well, except for the hospital holiday parties...can't beat free food. In the photo he is cooking with wine, so it appears, and that talent may be the saving grace of the place. His challenge in this area, as it is with most of us who like to cook good food, is that the ingredients in Craig are substandard, you can only go so far with Kroger, Wal-mart and Sysco foods, which is the main supplier of the eating establishments here. What Craig really needs is a Whole Foods Market or equivalent, that would draw people from miles around who like to use real, fresh ingredients to cook with. I know of a vacant building that would be perfect for a quality, fresh food supplier like Whole Foods.

Anyway, I really hope it gets turned around, and, I will give it a try myself. It only takes once to slide either way, I hope to slide back every now and then.

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Becky Plummer 5 months, 4 weeks ago

We ate out there just a couple weeks ago and to say the least it was not a great experience,the food (steak) reached the table cold and then when sent back to the kitchen because of it they reheated the meat I think in the microwave and then it was so tough I couldn't even chew it. We were not comped on the meal at all. And I DID send the food back not eaten. Maybe the next meal will be a better experience. Welcome to Craig Tim I hope you move here is an enjoyable one..

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Colette Erickson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree w/ Becky and David, and would have given those comments the "thumbs up" if that link worked. Really hoping you are successful, Tim! Sounds like you have wonderful ideas and plans!

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