Prices on everything have gone up. You see it at the gas pump. You see it at the grocery store. Even with a carefully crafted grocery list, you still feel the sting of inflation. For a brief moment, you might have considered becoming one of those extreme couponers, but likely that still wouldn’t cut it. Plus, snipping hundreds of coupons sounds like the exact opposite of a relaxing evening.
If you feel like something needs to change, you’re not alone. Victor Claffey, owner of Bull & Wren, is also feeling the pain of inflation. “Everything has gone up. As a restaurant owner, I'm looking at it and thinking that there has to be another way. We’ve got to think outside the box. We don’t want to fall into the trap of just passing on the cost to the guest and say it is what it is,” says Victor.
Three and half months ago, when Victor and his kitchen team sat down to look at their fall and winter menu, Victor was determined not to accept the direction the restaurant industry was heading. As they looked at the situation, going through costs, Victor and his team challenged themselves to develop a menu filled with high-quality dishes at a price point to ease the pain of inflation for guests and their wallets.
With a bit of effort and inventiveness, his team created a new menu, keeping guest favorites while including new options that offered quintessential Bull & Wren fare but at a less expensive price. For instance, one new item you’ll see is Pig Wings. Victor describes, “Pig Wings look like a small short rib, cooked the same as a chicken wing and tossed in the same sauce, but instead of having to charge $18 like a portion of chicken wings where the cost has gone crazy, we can offer Pig Wings for $14.” Their classic chicken wings are still on the menu, but now you have another delicious option.
Another new item is their Lamb Philly Cheesesteak. Shredded slow braised lamb shank meat, tender and flavorful after seven hours in the oven, is served Philly Cheesesteak style. At only $18, it’s a delectable alternative to their $24 Slow Braised Lamb Shank.
“You can see the pivot that we’re doing. We want people to have value for their money. We understand inflation is there, and we want to keep giving you options so you can enjoy a night out.”
When creating a new menu, Victor and his team look at everything. “A big part of it for us is listening. Listening to our staff, listening to our customers, that’s all part of the decision making,” explains Victor. From customer feedback and seeing what’s selling, to looking at the state of the world as a whole, Victor’s team manages to achieve the right balance on the menu, introducing new items like Potato Crusted Walleye, Pressed Pork Belly, Absolute Piggery Flatbread, and Cheese Curds appetizers.
Victor sees guests hesitant to go all in, forgoing appetizers and desserts. In response, Bull & Wren offers a popular Wine & Dine special, Monday through Wednesday nights, that includes one appetizer, two entrees, two glasses of wine, and one dessert to share for $60. Additionally, they’re introducing everyday happy hour Monday through Saturday from 3pm to 6pm and all-day happy hour Sundays.
Victor also transformed part of the pub, putting in a shuffleboard and an 8-foot championship billiard table next to comfortable couches and soft furnishings in the lounge. “We genuinely appreciate the person who’s going to spend $5 or $50. We as much want the guy who wants to shoot some pool and drink a couple of beers as the guy who wants a nice 3-course meal with friends. The pub is here for everyone and offers something for everybody,” says Victor.