Bring It Home – The Secret to a Successful Oxford Restaurant May Not Be the Food

Wait, WHAT?

Of course you need great food to have a successful eatery, but is it the number one priority?  Matthew Schlott, general manager of the Nottingham Inn LLC says no.  Matthew has been responsible for the operations and the development of the two local Herr’s restaurants and hotel for over 2 years and he clearly knows what he’s doing.  With 40 years of restaurant experience, of course he is able to create a beautifully crafted plate of food, but success doesn’t ride solely on your taste buds, in his opinion.

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“The Herr family’s mission is to be a blessing to the community”, says Schlott.  And the secret to their success is just that.  “We make it a point that service and to be of service is our highest priority.” For Matthew and his staff, connecting with every person that walks through the door is the most important part of every meal.  That connection starts with their first visit and grows with every visit.  Their loyalty program has over 4000 participants and it’s continuing to grow.  The program awards 1 point for every $1 spent (with occasional promotional extras like double points on Mondays and Tuesdays) and a $10 discount for every 200 points redeemed.

During a busy Friday breakfast service, these girls are all smiles

During a busy Friday breakfast service, these girls are all smiles

The Herr family has been an Oxford fixture for years.  When I stepped out of my car to head into the restaurant I could smell the fresh chips coming from the factory just steps away (they give free tours Monday-Friday).  However, the family name goes much further than those delicious chips (which I highly recommend you put ON your sandwich).  The family’s ever-present community support can be seen both at the kitchen and at countless community events like Bike Night and the annual holiday light display, and they also contribute financially to over 1000 charitable organizations.

While the community connection always remains top priority, don’t be fooled, the food is a delicious and refined version of the comfort food that warms your bones.  As for Matthew’s favorite dish on the menu, “They’re like my kids!  I can’t pick a favorite!” he said with a smile.  He did admit to his love for the slow-cook and braising process.  The Short Rib Ragu is served with Kennett mushrooms over stone ground grits entree for $16.75 (literally the most expensive thing on the menu if you are wondering about price point) and it will not disappoint.  “We want to offer simple approachable food that is understandable so guests can sit down and just enjoy dinner.” My favorite on the menu is the hummus trio.  Here is my trio of reasons that I love it so.  It’s house made, the flavors are always a magical threesome of surprise deliciousness,and it’s served with a combo of warm pita bread triangles, veges and feta.  Not to mention, there’s always enough to take home left-overs if you are able to resist licking the bowl clean before you are ready to leave.   What’s next for the Herr family?  The recently opened Downtown Pasta (located in the borough of Oxford) is doing well and follows the same structure as Nottingham with an Italian bistro style menu.  “Barring any additional natural disasters (the snow levels in Oxford were the 2nd highest in history this winter, which prevented the restaurant from opening on time and caused parking complications), we will be great!”

Want to further your connection with this Nottingham gem?  Of course you do. Why not give one of their dishes a go in your own kitchen?  I talked Matthew into sharing The Inn’s hummus recipe with me.  Your challenge if you choose to accept it – is to Bring It Home – make it at home, make it your own, and send me your pics!  Or better yet, why not stop in the restaurant and share your success and secrets with Matthew himself.

kitchencreamery

Red Pepper Hummus

1 can chick peas /garbanzo beans

juice from 1/2 lemon

1tsp olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tsp fresh parsley

1 clove crushed garlic

1 whole roasted pepper sliced (click here to see how to roast a pepper)

Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Preparation: In a food processor, blend parsley, garlic, red pepper, garlic, and onion until smooth.

Add beans, lemon juice and olive oil

Process until smooth and serve with warm pita triangles

This recipe can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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