Our Consistent Kitchen Dance
Every summer, we serve about 900 people a day—everything from a Hummus Plate and drinks to hearty burgers, steaks or seafood. From the time we open at 11:30 in the morning until we close at midnight, the Emerald Room and pub are bustling with families and friends who create the sound of people having fun.
In large part, what makes this enjoyment possible is the consistent and attentive work that goes on behind the other side of the kitchen doors. Back there, a team of roughly 45 culinary professionals carefully choreographs the offerings, supported by trusted recipes and a drive to serve quality food that customers know and love.
“We’re a great team,” says co-owner Jeff Beetle, who has retired as a chef in the kitchen and now works as a prep cook. “Our staff members are so competent and professional. They’re dedicated to the ongoing development of their culinary skills, and they basically run the show out back now. We are proud and grateful for their loyalty and capabilities.”
Jeff notes that our kitchen managers, Stephanie Kirk and Rick Morten, have each been with us from the beginning—24 years.
Jeff says the guiding principle for the kitchen staff is maintaining a consistent quality of food. “You want the meal your customer had last week to be the same as the one they’ll get this week or will have next week,” he says. “People have expectations once they have a dish once. They want it to be as good as the last time.”
The tried-and-true method for maintaining consistency is the notebook in the kitchen that holds each of our recipes. Cooks can remove each laminated page from the binder, study it, spill ingredients on it, and put it back in the book.
Jeff has been assisting the kitchen staff for over 20 years now—since he and his brother Allan Beetle bought Patrick’s in May 1994—so his presence and guidance has also helped to ensure that the food tastes great, every time. “We teach people as they come through the kitchen how to prepare things our way,” Jeff says.
Experimentation, creativity, and good listening also play a role in shaping the menu.
Jeff says the staff has developed favorites over the years, from what they’ve had while dining out themselves and what they’ve seen prepared on television. “We also get a lot of feedback through comment cards and pay very close attention to that and make adjustments accordingly,” he says.
“Our award-winning Seafood Chowder is a very popular item that’s been on the menu with the same recipe since day one,” he adds. “The Hummus Plate and the Drunken Leprechaun—a chicken sandwich—are examples of menu items that were created based on feedback and suggestion. And our Black Angus beef burgers have won Best Burger awards in the Lakes Region for the past several years.”
On any given shift, Jeff says there are seven cooks in the kitchen, each with one of these tasks: using the Fryolator to make French fries, onion rings, fried chicken; sautéing dishes on top of the stove, from mussels to chicken parmesan; cooking nachos, baked haddock and other dishes in the oven; preparing burgers, grilled chicken, steak tips; making salads; or building sandwiches and wraps.
The seventh person in the kitchen has the job of tracking which items need to be ready at the same time to be served to all parties at one table. “That’s the toughest job on the line—knowing when that ticket is up and alerting the waitress,” he says.
Jeff’s modest competence is supported by a degree in culinary arts that he earned at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1983. He completed the prestigious accelerated program that was only available to 40 students selected each year. At that time, he had experience working at several restaurants in eastern Massachusetts.
After his training, Jeff worked at Steele Hill for 10 years, before buying Patrick’s.
“I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with food,” he says, noting that his mother, Evelyn Beetle was a good cook and mentor. “It was important to have good food at home to have a baseline. I had a strong foundation and have been building on it for 40 years.”