Chef Howard Hanna, left, recently named as a James Beard Award semifinalist -- his first nomination -- and Ryan Maybee will stop serving lunch at the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange on Friday. On Monday, the venue begins a new happy-hour program with food and drink specials.
After three years of serving lunch and dinner at the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, at 1924 Main, the restaurant's owners and manager decided to stop lunch service; Friday, February 28, will be the last day of lunch service in the popular downtown bistro.
"it was a very bittersweet decision," Ryan Maybee says.
"It was a decision we didn't want to make," chef Howard Hanna says, "but frankly, we felt we had lost money on lunch beginning the first year."
But the timing was right for making a change: Two of Hanna's daytime kitchen staff, including Marcus McCreary (who is moving to Austin, Texas) gave their notice, and the Rieger officially kicks off its new happy-hour menu on Monday, March 3. Hanna says there was no connection between ending lunch at the Rieger and the Friday-night opening of his newest project, Ça Va, a champagne bar in Westport.
A popular featured lunch sandwich at the Rieger was a variation on the classic Reuben made with either roasted beets or corned beef tongue.
"People don't seem to understand that even when Ça Va is open, I'll still be here at the Rieger every night," Hanna says.
The happy hour will be offered Monday through Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Rieger; Hanna's menu will feature the restaurant's signature pork soup, barbecued rabbit "wings," miniature hot dogs encased in brioche rolls, mini pork tenderloin sandwiches, and steamed mussels.
The moderately priced cocktails offered during happy hour include a $5 Bicyclette (white wine and Campari) and a $6 French 75 (gin, sparkling wine and lemon juice) - the featured cocktail in the 1942 film classic Casablanca