There was reason for Joseph McBane to feel confident when he opened his restaurant Tap & Table last July. He had been through it all before.
Back in 2007, McBane opened Tap and Mallet LLC, a pub on Gregory Street, with business partner Casey Walpert, who also owns Mex Restaurant and Skylark Lounge. Tap & Mallet has since become one of the more popular bars in Rochester's South Wedge neighborhood.
With Tap and Table Inc., McBane sought to take his vision for Tap & Mallet, which features a diverse and large collection of regional craft beers, and apply it to food.
"I've always believed that long-term success is built on creating a place that people enjoy and feel comfortable in, but you also need to provide variety within that experience," says McBane, 34. "We do that through drinks at Tap & Mallet.
"At Tap & Table, working with local farmers and having a seasonal menu was the perfect way to accomplish variety. Things change constantly, and people get an entirely different experience each time they come."
McBane has been in the bar business since coming to the United States from his native Sheffield, England, in 2000. He began by working as a replacement student at the Old Toad, where he stayed for seven years, before breaking out on his own.
"I reached a point where I felt I needed to do something myself," McBane says. "That's when the Tap & Mallet took shape."
After making Tap & Mallet a success, it was time for the next challenge. McBane and Walpert already were exploring potential locations for Tap & Table when Virtu Restaurant closed its doors at 284 Exchange Blvd. in the Corn Hill neighborhood.
McBane says the waterfront location at Corn Hill Landing was perfect.
"Coming across this location was pretty cool," he says. "I love the water. Corn Hill is kind of like the South Wedge in a lot of ways. It's an area people see as up-and-coming, and we're glad to be a part of that."
McBane's plan is to make Tap & Table a go-to spot for people in the Corn Hill neighborhood, as the Tap & Mallet is a community hub in the South Wedge. He says Tap & Mallet regulars were many of the early customers at Tap & Table.
"They gave us a lot of great feedback that we've been able to use to refine and improve on what we're doing," McBane says.
That feedback has driven a menu that features a diverse collection of burgers and vegetable, poultry and steak dishes. The bar has 30 beers on tap, which McBane says "are all fantastic," as well as a variety of wines and cocktails.
He notes the Tap & Table's customer base has shifted to include Corn Hill residents and employees on their lunch breaks. The restaurant currently has roughly 30 employees, which will grow during the summer season when things are expected to pick up, McBane says.
"I like to think I'm a pretty young guy with a lot ahead of me," he says. "I love downtown Rochester, and I would love to see this place go in the direction of success as the Tap & Mallet."
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