Raven’s Tavern perches in Boone
Old fans of the Ham Shoppe’s signature sandwiches can rejoice.
The former longstanding culinary creations have made a triumphant return.
These savory selections can now be devoured with other house favorites at Raven’s Tavern, located at 125 Graduate Lane in the former Genos’ building (think of the big waterwheel).
Co-owner Ed Lucas, and former proprietor of the Ham Shoppe, said the road to opening the new eatery took a serendipitous turn following the closing of his previous venture.
Lucas said he searched exhaustively for a new venue for the Ham Shoppe in 2010 and had given up on cooking in the High Country when the current locale more or less “fell into” his lap.
“This place became available, and I ran with it,” Lucas said. “It was definitely not a planned move.”
Lucas, who is joined by childhood friend Veronica Dumas, said the tavern’s staff prides itself with a healthy dosage of speed, efficiency and, of course, freshness.
“Our cheese is fresh,” Lucas insisted. “There are no dyes or preservatives in our White American. This is top of the line.”
The same is true for the produce that is delivered daily. The quality shines through in the tavern’s Northern style pizzas, as the staff uses whole and unblended mozzarella cheeses.
By doing so, Lucas said the pizzas produce a thin layer of oil on the top of the pizza that speaks volumes for the fresh cheeses that are used.
Lucas probably doesn’t have to tell you about his piping hot loaves of bread either. Those, too, are fresh right out of the oven.
If he doesn’t use the bread the day it’s made, it finds a second life as a batch of fresh croutons on the prep line the next day. “Everything that I can make, I make,” Lucas said.
As for the patty meat that is not handcrafted into a house burger, Lucas uses the next day as chili. The only use for heat lamps, Lucas said, is to warm the bare plates.
In addition to quality and freshness, the success of the tavern also hinges on the speedy expertise of the cooks and servers, Lucas said.
“If you can’t do wings, sandwiches, quesadillas and have them all done at the same time, then you don’t work here,” he said.
While Lucas might sound succinct in his methodology, he has the experience to back it up.
“I cut my teeth washing dishes at 14,” he said. “I worked my way up to cooking. I got one of those expensive omelet pans for my birthday when I was just 16. I have a passion for cooking.”
Lucas hopes to create a dining and social environment that will nicely complement the tavern’s signature menu.
In coming weeks, Lucas hopes to host dart tournaments and another “Battle of the Bands” music contest. The tavern currently hosts trivia each Monday, karaoke each Thursday, and, as always, a game of pool is only 50 cents.
While Raven’s Tavern might appeal to local college students, Lucas said he is also trying to foster a family-oriented dining experience, as well.
He even has a second door open for those wishing to bypass the restaurant’s bar scene. “We are trying to get a nice mix going,” Lucas said.
For more information on Raven’s Tavern, visit http://www.ravenstavern.net.
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