When the Red Dove Tavern in downtown Geneva opened in 2007, the owners were told they were missing something they would need to survive.
“We don't have any TVs or any sort of visual distraction. Our philosophy was, you come into a place and you sit down and you maybe meet somebody new and talk with people. We were told that that was not gonna work. There's no way we can make it without a TV or some sort of, like, video poker on the bar.”
Rune Hilt is one of the owners of the Red Dove Tavern. Thirteen years later, the restaurant has survived and prospered. In fact, other downtown bar and restaurant owners who have opened in recent years, call the success of the Red Dove an inspiration for their own businesses.
“We're very humble to hear things like that, but at the same time, it takes a village to get things rolling, and if people weren't receptive of what we were doing, it wouldn't have worked. So, sure, we can take some credit for that, but the real credit goes to the people of Geneva.”
In March, the state mandated pause meant the people of Geneva, not to mention spring and summer tourists stayed home. As restrictions lifted, restaurants focused on providing carry out. But, not the Red Dove.
Hilt says they wanted to be cautious about the health of their employees and customers. He also notes that not all of their food necessarily works well for carry out. They were also waiting until they could operate at 50% capacity, which came sooner than they thought.
They were able to create an outdoor seating area in back, where there’s more room than on the sidewalk in front. And, they thought differently about how to use the space inside. It’s hard to miss the new coolers and shelves that fill up some of the space that used to be seating.
“We thought, let's put a little market in with some of the products that we fell in love with over the years and some new things that we just find interesting. We try to keep it that everything that we have, with the exception of maybe one or two things, you can't get at a grocery store. We have some imported cheeses from Spain and Italy that I've never seen it any of the grocery stores around here, or even the grocery store in Pittsford, which we're pretty proud of that. And then a lot of cured meats that you don't see on the shelves around here. Again, we're working with a great European importer that gets a lot of these specialty meats and things in, so it's kind of a fun for us. Then, when we're getting our deliveries for the restaurant from local farms, we're saying, ‘Hey, can you throw in an extra few heads of lettuce to put some fresh produce in the market as well?’”
In addition to outdoor seating and the market, The Red Dove have made some changes to their hours and offerings. They’re now open Wednesday through Saturday. And, for the first time in a long while, they’re serving lunch as well. Lunch and dinner menus are their website, www.reddovetavern.com.