The F&C one-question interview gives us a glimpse behind the curtain at our favorite places. This time, we asked one question of Patrick McPherson, the Spokane publican behind Manito Tap House and The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen, a fresh new restaurant in the historic Broadview Dairy Building at 905 N. Washington.
F&C: This summer your team opened the Blackbird, doubling your presence as a Spokane restaurateur. How are goals different with that new venture, and what are you learning about the industry by having two unique spots?
Patrick: Opening The Blackbird, we wanted to put a bit more focus on rare and specialty bottled beer. Currently we have 123 bottles: gluten-free, cider, and of course just high-end beers. We built a temperature-controlled cellar for our beer and wine bottles, but we also serve two draft beers out of it. As far as we know, we're the first to serve beer at cellar temperature. On the cellar taps, we typically feature a Belgian and a barrel-aged beer such as Goose Island's Bourbon County.
We also wanted to match the special bottled beers with a more refined menu. To that end, we brought in a wood-fired smoker and grill; these allow Chef Molly Patrick to create dishes with flavors you just can't get from gas appliances. So, we look forward to introducing Spokane locals and guests to new and different beers and cuisine.
As for what we've learned... well, location matters tremendously! The clientele and patterns we see differ more significantly than expected between the two. For example: the Tap House is much more predictable overall, and with the Blackbird's downtown setting we've seen our craft cocktail orders come far closer to draft beer orders than we imagined in terms of the numbers. It's fun to look into the details, many of which are driven by the feel of the place and how the experience fits the neighborhood.