Restaurant closing a week for remodeling, training

Monarch Brewing Co. in Monticello will be closed from Feb. 5-12 for a kitchen remodel and staff training. It will reopen at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Owner Matt Miller said the main idea behind the work is to get food to customers more quickly.

“We’re going to be revamping the service model as far as training. During the closing we’ll be doing staff training on some new menu items and service standards, and just educating them,” he said.

Executive Chef Joe Zaranski said a brick wall is also being taken out of the basement kitchen in order to widen a window that was only four feet wide and was causing bottleneck for servers.

“The way the layout is now is not conducive to an efficient flow of food getting out of the kitchen and up to the dining room,” said Zaranski. The construction work will widen that opening to approximately 16 feet. Some new equipment will also be installed into the kitchen.

Miller said the microbrewery and restaurant is striving for “efficient service but also just better service; a better quality product that we’re putting in front of the customer. Giving the customers a really unique dining and drinking opportunity here in Monticello.”

New staff
Zaranski took over as Monarch’s executive chef in November. A native of Dobs Ferry, New York, he has worked as a chef in Chicago, Arizona and Boston and most recently as a chef partner at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano in Champaign.

When contacted by Miller, he was impressed with Monarch, located in a former United Methodist Church building.

“I saw the beautiful layout in the church here and knew it was something worth my time and effort.”

That atmosphere also attracted Ivan Samayoa, who came to Monarch as its general manager on Jan. 4.

“This was one of the restaurants that intrigued me most,” said Samayoa, who has served as a manager at both The Hub and Big Grove Tavern, both in Champaign. “It’s a brewery, it’s absolutely beautiful. It was an easy sell.”

New menu items will accompany the re-opening on Feb. 13, although specific details are not being revealed. It will include an in-house pulled pork, with the addition of more locally created items.

“We’re going to be near a 95 percent scratch kitchen and making as much in house as we can,” said Zaranski.

Better integration of wine choices with specific menu offerings is also being planned in the near future, something that is a good fit for Samayoa, who is a certified Level One Sommelier and “avid wine lover.”

While not yet on the menu, Zaranski also hopes to get one of his favorites – “good ole’ New York Pizza” – to customers down the line.

For those who get their food information from shows on television, both Zaranaski and Samayoa warns they are not realistic when compared to actual restaurant kitchens.

“Those shows make the culinary experience seem like fast food. But it takes a lot of work, organization and time,” said Samayoa.

And some of it can be mundane, added Zaranski, who has 35 years in the restaurant business and is a culinary school graduate of the Art Institute of Phoenix.

“I work here for 12 hours a day, and six of it is cutting vegetables and talking,” he noted. “And while flames look good on television, we don’t want flames on our food. It takes taste away.”

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