The Artisan owner Cary Hamilton seems to have almost fallen into the food industry. As a commercial realtor, he originally purchased the restaurant's building in 2007 and became a silent owner when his niece purchased the restaurant, which was Continental Park Cafe then. His niece decided the business wasn't for her, and Hamilton decided to make it his own and revamp the place.
Re-opening doors Jan. 1 this year, Hamilton has already expanded the restaurant's menu to now serve a number of French, Mediterranean, Italian and American style dishes, and he's in the process of doing more. As of last Friday, he acquired the coffee shop downstairs, Continental Coffee and Sweets, and is converting parts of it into a bar area.
In this week's Meet the Owner, Hamilton talks further about his plans and what his hopes are.
Patch: Tell me a little bit about the renovations that you're doing to the coffee shop.
Cary Hamilton: Downstairs, we'll be putting in all new carpet in the dining area. In the coffee shop part, we're going to turn that into a lunch, dinner, late-night counter. It's really a bar, but it's not just a bar. It's not just a place you come to sit and have drinks. It's going to stay open later than the restaurant, so you can still come in and have appetizers and desserts and beer and wine. I'm hoping to have it open in early November.
We're also going to have artists painting, sculpting, whatever they do, [inside the restaurant] as soon as we can acquire that many artists. We've got a lot of people who are interested. There's a downstairs storage room that we're going to turn into an artists' gallery. It will be kind of like a gift shop for their stuff.
Patch: Did you keep the same recipes from before you were the owner?
Hamilton: When I changed the name to The Artisan (we used to be Continental Park Café), we kept most of the things on the menu that we already had, but we added quite a few new items. We added the French and the Italian, because Mama Mia’s moved out of town and we had a lot of people asking for Italian. All of the changes we made were because customers came in asking for it. We really focus on everything being healthy, too: We don't fry anything here. Everything is baked.
Our motto when we changed our tagline to the Artisan is, “A world of flavors the whole family can enjoy.” And so that’s what we have now: a world of flavors.
Patch: What’s one thing you want people to know about your restaurant?
Hamilton: I would like for people to think of this as a hometown place they can come [to], enjoy with their friends, have some good food, good drinks and feel like they got value for their money. That’s one reason for the artists making their art here: Primarily, what we’re trying to do is add more value, a dinner-and-show kind of deal. So I hope they’ll look at this as a place with a lot of value for the atmosphere, because we feel that our prices are affordable and there’s not anything quite like this anywhere else.