Tip of My Tongue: Petaluma’s April Pantry closed for good
After two Thanksgiving debacles, April Pantry closes
April Pantry recently announced its permanent closure. Although its food was excellent, the restaurant was plagued with problems since the start. And after its second Thanksgiving meal disaster, the closure comes as no surprise to many.
Last week April Pantry posted a farewell post to its Facebook fans before pulling down its page, as well as deactivating its website and Instagram page.
Owner Aimee D’maris signed the lease for April Pantry on Feb. 27, 2020, her birthday, and as bad luck would have it, just a couple of weeks prior to the pandemic lockdown. She appears to have closed things out for good exactly two years later, enjoying both birthday and well wishes on her 2022 birthday.
Based simply on my experience as a food writer here Petaluma, I was concerned with the restaurant’s chances of survival since the start, in large part because their food was so darn good and fresh. The costs to keep up with a menu like April Pantry’s must have been astronomical. April Pantry’s background is catering and making the transition to restaurant service is not as seamless as simply offering catering quality meals on a regular to-order menu.
Catering vs. Restaurant Service
Catering is a whole different beast than running a restaurant, which is why you often do not see businesses crossing over between the two. Caterers know ahead of time how many meals they need to make on any given day, and usually have a limited menu to prepare. That kind of planning ahead is harder to do with restaurants, which often led to April Pantry running out of popular dishes regularly and often quite early in their lunch service.
A restaurant cannot run out of things regularly and expect to survive, even in these ‘supply chain’ challenged times. More often than not, when we tried to order something for lunch, enough of the menu was not available that it had us wondering what was going on. Even when we attempted to beat the lunch rush by ordering in advance, and well prior to the lunch rush, the most popular dishes were often not on that day’s menu. And running out of something as easy to make and store as brownies always made us raise an eyebrow as to how the kitchen was being run.
Location, Location, Location
Then there was April Pantry’s locale, nestled on Clegg Court in north Petaluma among enterprise. This site has never been a great restaurant location. If a sandwich shop could not make it with all those businesses around them, plus breweries and distilleries, many of which do not offer they own food, a full-blown sit-down restaurant was going to be a challenge. Although this location might be a decent lunch spot, it has never supported a strong breakfast or dinner crowd.
And then there were the special dinner debacles, including back-to-back Thanksgivings when April Pantry failed enough of its customers with either very late meal delivery or no meals at all. The restaurant tried to make up for these mistakes, but messing with people’s Thanksgiving is something that a lot of guests found unforgiveable, especially having had similar problems the year before. For those wondering why anyone would risk Thanksgiving problems for a second year in a row, as mentioned from the get-go, April Pantry had great food.
Calling all BBQ and Chili cooks!
Ribs for Kids, the Petaluma Active 20-30 club foodie fundraiser is back and better than ever. Where a lot of events have scaled back as we come out of the pandemic, Ribs for Kids decided to go big by changing to a much larger venue to accommodate more people more safely, as well as to add a whole new competition to their rib cookoff – a chili cookoff! For those who have been missing the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff since its 10-plus year run came an end a few years ago, this is your chance to either compete or taste some of the best chilis around -- or both.
This year’s Ribs for Kids will be held on Saturday, May 21, from noon-4 p.m., at the Petaluma Fairgrounds. It also offers a side dish competition, beer and wine, tons of games and raffles, and live music. Visit petaluma2030.org for more information and to reserve your tickets.
With all this nice weather, it’s as good a time as any to dust off the grill and the smoker and start working on those rib and chili recipes your friends and family have always told you could win awards. For direct inquiries, email email@example.com
Sips & Bites
After a couple of year hiatus, Sips & Bites is back at the Petaluma Woman’s Club (petalumawomansclub.com) for two sessions on Sunday, April 3, 2022. This is the 3rd Sips & Bites and having attended the first two, I can attest that it is a really nice and relaxed food and drink event, where you not only get to see the beautiful PWC clubhouse from the inside but also get a chance to speak to and learn about many of our local food and drink purveyors.
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