|Patrice Welcher is out, Matthew Coe is in|
The biggest change took place last week: Welcher has officially left the kitchen.
"Patrice is going to continue to work with us as a consultant," Sharp's owner Marty Junkins tells me. "I thought her food was outstanding. But she left the restaurant to look for another challenge."
Servers at Sharp's have told me that the restaurant's diehard regulars -- you know, the ones who love the inexplicably popular (and horrible) cream-of-water-chestnut soup -- have resented many of the changes Welcher made. Junkins says he has received a surprising number of angry e-mails from those patrons, including demands that the grilled turkey sandwich be returned to the menu (it has been) and even insistence on the return of the water-chestnut soup.
"People got very upset about that gruel not being on the menu anymore," Junkins says
Yes, the watery, sickly sweet soup will return to the menu, but only as an occasional special. The restaurant's new executive chef, Matthew Coe (hired by Welcher as sous chef), has hired a cook, Katie Burris, to help create new soups for the winter months. "We'll continue to offer our black-bean chili every day and have a daily soup special," Junkins says. "Katie does amazing things with soups."
"Matthew is going to continue our decision to focus on hearty comfort foods made with locally grown produce and regional meats and poultry," Junkins adds. "He really has a vision for the restaurant, and we're discussing new dishes, like a chicken pot pie and a pumpkin-squash soup for the colder months. Matthew has already created a few spectacular new items, like a seasonal apple bread pudding and a peach praline cheesecake made with while chocolate. Our desserts are better than they have ever been."
Junkins has owned Sharp's for nearly eight years. He says he's determined to build up the restaurant's dinner business. "Yes, I know it's a challenge," he says, "but we're up for it."