Starting from scratch: New Clarion chef wants to bring a fresh menu to Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

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

Erin Fenner

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

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."

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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.

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