From Chippy to Gastropub, the Successful Evolution from One Concept to Many
In the midst of planning for the rapidly approaching opening of his new concept, Oli Bea’s, I grabbed a few minutes with Chef-Owner Jeffrey DeAlejandro of the Crown and Goose in Knoxville, Tennessee to reflect on his earlier days. Still making his name in the industry but beyond the cusp of newbie, Chef Jeffrey’s reflections were far different from what he anticipated when first opening what he thought would remain a small neighborhood eatery.
He always had a passion for food. From the early day’s cooking in the kitchen with his mother, Patricia Nash and inspired by his British stepfather, Jeffrey Nash, DeAlejandro was determined to turn that passion and inspiration into his life’s work. It was that determination and his mother’s insistence that, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” that led to the pursuit of the family-owned Crown and Goose.
The First Concept:
When Crown and Goose was first launched, the intent was to be somewhat of a “chippy.” The casual name given to fish and chip dives in England, DeAlejandro had fallen for these eateries while visiting family in the UK and was eager to bring the casual environment and simple menu to his community in East Tennessee.
Ultimately, the chef’s patrons had a very different plan for the direction of Crown and Goose. After casually experimenting with specialty menu offerings included more formal, complex fare, the chef’s audience made their opinion clear. Voting with their orders, the community created the demand for one of Knoxville’s first gastro pubs and so Crown and Goose evolved.
The Crown and Goose Grows:
Settling in, DeAlejandro began expanding the menu and developing a greater number of seasonal offerings. Working with various farmers and suppliers across the region, he focused on sourcing as many local, organic, and sustainably produced items as possible.
Between breaking down whole hogs and producing everything from scratch, it was a demanding adjustment. Chef Jeffrey admits that he did finally give in and stop making his mayonnaise from scratch but assured me that everything else on the menu is hand cut, made in house, and completely fresh. I suppose we can give him a pass on the mayo.
Realizing the growth in the craft beer industry in conjunction with a growing interest in his locally sourced menu, he added on a beer garden for patrons looking to enjoy a pint outdoors. With the beer garden flourishing and the Crown and Goose gastro pub concept outgrowing its space, Chef Jeffrey saw the opportunity to continue to expand and thus The Underground was added to his rapidly growing mini-empire.
The Underground, inspired by the London Underground was developed as an overflow for the busy Crown and Goose space highlighting small-plate options and craft cocktails. Guests can stop in for a small plate and cocktail before dinner or head over for after dinner cocktails and live music. Seeing a need for additional gathering space in the city, DeAlejandro also began hosting events in the new space.
Reflecting on Success:
In looking back over the past successes, Chef Jeffrey looked away from his personal story and reflected on the successes of a past employee. Currently interning at Per Se in New York, Chef Sam Burchett often touches base with DeAlejandro sharing exciting tales from the kitchen of Executive Chef Thomas Keller. Admittedly, he would trade places with the young chef in a moment’s time but lucky for us, he has instead vowed to continue developing his skills right here in Knoxville.
For Chef Jeffrey, his success is measured in the lessons he can pass along to those working in his kitchens, in the memories guests create over one of his meals, and even in the opportunity to continue growing through endless mistakes. The latter, he assured, me is his most inspiring key to success.
Looking Toward the Future:
As Chef Jeffrey looks toward the future of his concepts he does so with excitement for what’s to come. Oli Bea’s will be opening at the end of the month for breakfast service. He describes it as Waffle House-casual with the best, locally sourced ingredients and service one could ask for.
For all the night owls in the Knoxville community, they’ll be excited to know that upon settling in to the new menu, Oli Bea’s will be open for a late night breakfast on the weekends.
Chef Jeffrey also hinted at the expansion of Crown and Goose in other southern cities in the near futures. Heads up Music City, you may have a new gastro pub headed your way.
Meet the Chef:
Want to meet Chef Jeffrey and experience his seasonal offering? Stop in at Chef Supplies by KaTom on November 18th for a cooking class featuring Chef Jeffrey and cocktail specialist Zach Calfee of Armada Bar.