Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New restaurant opens on the Plaza

ASHLAND DAILY TIDINGS

Eatery will offer French cuisine

dailytidings-20100113

By Elon Glucklich

A pair of young restaurant owners are hoping their French cuisine adds a splash of culture to Ashland's dining scene.

Jacqueline and Jeremy Vidalo-Singh have opened Loft American Brasserie & Bar, a French-style gourmet eatery in the heart of the Ashland plaza. Located at 18 Calle Guanajuato on the Old Masonic Walkway downtown, the restaurant is Ashland's newest, but its owners plan on sticking around.

"We've worked in restaurants in Ashland for quite a while," said Jeremy. "We look at it not as work, but as having people come to hang out, like they were over for dinner."
Jacqueline and Jeremy, in their mid-20s, have been married for five years. Singh's father is the owner of Medford's India Palace. Working at his father's restaurant provided Jeremy with much more than a blueprint for success in the restaurant business. It's how he met his wife.

"I was waiting tables at India Palace, and her family had been coming for two or three years," Jeremy said. "Eventually we started hanging out, and then we were living together, and here we are."

To run a "brasserie," in French terms, is to host a casual dining experience with meals prepared in a comfortable atmosphere. Diners at Loft can sample a variety of dinner options, from steak au poivre and duck shepherds pie, to classic clam chowder and white truffle scented macaroni and cheese.

"The white truffle macaroni and cheese has been really popular," Jacqueline said.

They held a soft opening for Loft on Jan. 8. The couple said it was well received and, on the strength of its reception, it is now open for regular hours, Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Jacqueline said she knew it would only be a matter of time until she and her husband were given the chance to put their skills to use.
"We had been looking for a place to open a restaurant for a while," she said. "We figured if we were going to work for someone else, why not work a little harder for ourselves? It's much more rewarding."

The couple had considered several locations in Medford to start their business. Looking in Ashland, Jacqueline said she knew the two-story space at 18 Calle Guanajuato would be the perfect home from the moment they first walked in.
"It was so amazing," she said. "I knew this was it."

Ownership is a whole new venture for the young couple. But it is one they say they are eager to take on. Jeremy says his experiences in the restaurant industry will help him adapt to a style of cooking that, until now, had been relatively foreign.

"One thing that attracted me about doing a French restaurant was the sauce making," he said. "I think that comes from the sauces used in making Indian food. There's definitely a similarity there."

Starting in February, Loft will hold lunch hours from 11 p.m. until 2 p.m., before opening for its regular dinner hours. In addition to French cuisine, the restaurant will offer a carefully sorted selection of wines.

"As warmer weather comes, we'll expand to patio and private dining," Jacqueline said. "We'll also be hiring."

The couple is opening their business at a time when many restaurant owners in town are struggling to make a profit. But they see their arrival as a perfect timing, with an original style of French food, and a comfortable dining environment that will stay in town for the years ahead.

"I'm ecstatic," Jacqueline said. "I'm excited to get to work."

Elon Glucklich is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact him at eglucklich@gmail.com