Suit jackets are now optional as Corbett’s has loosened its tie.
The restaurant, now known as Jack’s at Corbett’s, is not tossing aside the white tablecloths altogether and will retain popular high-ticket menu items such as its Parmesan crusted halibut and prime filet of beef, as well as its wine dinners and menu tastings. However, the menu also features nachos for $9, chicken wings for $13 and a Black Hawk Farms burger for $15.
“We’d just like people to come in a little bit more often and be thought of less in the vein of special occasion and more as in ‘Hey, why don’t we go over and grab a quick bite and a really great mixed drink’ versus ‘Let’s save up all our money for an anniversary dinner,’ ” said Dean Corbett, owner and chef at Jack’s at Corbett’s.
In conversations, guests told Corbett that the restaurant was a spot for them to celebrate major life events, not an everyday dinner place. Customers said they’d come in more often if Corbett’s was more like Equus and Jack’s Lounge, his St. Matthews restaurant and bar.
“It was an overwhelming request from guests that they’d like to see things a little more affordable, accessible and they don’t have to dress up,” Corbett said.
At Equus and Jack’s Lounge, people will visit two to four times a week, he said, because the atmosphere is more casual, and it has a mix of price points.
“Here, it was always kind of formal. The servers wear vests and ties, where over there, it’s a simple apron with a button down and so forth,” Corbett said. “It just creates a more casual feel, and we are trying to do the same thing here.”
Another customer request was to scale down the size of the filet, so Corbett went from serving an 8-ounce filet to a 6-ounce filet and dropped the price to $36 from $48.
The menu remains fluid as Corbett says he is feeling out what customers want, and of course, it will change seasonally at usual.
The menu isn’t the only change, however. On one side of the dining room, white tablecloths remain on the tables, albeit toned down a bit. The other half of the dining room is split between the bar, another dining space with tables made of reclaimed wood from Longfield Farm, and a lounge area that feels like a living room.
Over the weekend, “I was getting texts from customers saying ‘sitting in your living room by the fire having a great time,’ ” Corbett said, adding that the lounge fits naturally in the 100-year-old home, which sticks out amid the surrounding hospital buildings and newly built retail centers. “It’s the oasis in the concrete jungle.”
The impetus for the change was simple, he says — sales and customers requests. In addition to voicing a desire to see change, customers were talking with their pocketbooks, and the restaurant had not hit its sales goals during the past three years.
Since making the change last week, sales volumes already are up 35 percent, Corbett said, and he’s already seen customers return multiple times.
The average check will drop about $20, he estimated. “But we are going to pick it up in the amount of people.”
While customers will notice differences in food and appearance, Corbett said the restaurant will maintain the fine dining quality service that it’s known for and that helped it secure a four-diamond rating from AAA.
“Our service remains the same,” Corbett said. “The mentality of the guest comes first. We make no bones about it. We all have jobs because of these people coming in the door.”
The hours of operation for Corbett’s are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.