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Clover aims for balance of fine dining quality and locality | Business

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Clover aims for balance of fine dining quality and locality
Clover aims for balance of fine dining quality and locality

It's a house, no wait - it's a restaurant that feels like home near Gonzaga University in Spokane's Logan Neighborhood. Clover is a new fine dining experience at Sharp and Hamilton planning for a Wednesday grand opening. Its mission? Changing how America eats one plate at a time, starting with Spokane.

In the restaurant’s front yard, the Chef’s Garden is growing the basic herbs like basil, rosemary, sage and more. Restaurant owner, Scott McCandless hopes to educate diners with a balance of quality and locality to produce a Mediterranean menu.

“It starts with knowing where your food comes from,” McCandless said.

Californian olive oil, shrimp from the Louisiana coast and Alaskan halibut are just some of the menu items that McCandless uses as examples of good sources of food. One thing the menu will lack the majority of the time is tomatoes due to concerns of gassing.

“The season is so short, if you design a menu that calls for tomatoes, you can’t get non-gassed tomatoes in this region except for four months out of the year,” McCandless said. “We’ll have a BLT on the menu when we can get ripened heirloom tomatoes.”

The restaurant’s breads come from the property’s backyard in a structure re-purposed as a bakery. On Friday afternoon, just hours before the 64 anticipated diners were set to arrive for the restaurant’s soft opening, employees were rolling the dough for the rolls soon to be served for dinner.

The property feels detached from the rest of the neighborhood. A wood plank wall separates patio dining from the next door gas station. The roadway traffic of Hamilton is audible from the seating area. It feels more like the patio dining at home on wood picnic tables a few steps away from the property’s green house.

It still feels like a home inside. It used to be residential living for students at Gonzaga. During a recent catering experience for an engineering group, a former Gonzaga graduate said he lived in the house in 1999. His bedroom is now the men’s bathroom.

The majority of the dining is upstairs with natural daylight pouring in through the windows. The walls are lined with framed photographs, some showcasing Gonzaga’s past, some photos from McCandless’ past. In one photo, he’s photographed with his brothers. He’s the smallest of the three at his Californian home when he was a child.

McCandless chose the Gonzaga location on purpose. By buying the property outright last year, he avoids any potential leasing or landlord problems.

“Real estate in this area is precious. You have a college, a college vying for more and more property,” McCandless said. “To some people, this property is worth gold because of its proximity to Gonzaga. That’s not why we’re here.”

McCandless chose the University District for its proximity to a school with Catholicism history stemming back to Italy to cook up a Mediterranean menu.

“For our whole idea, we wanted a Mediterranean theme. In Spokane, where does the predominantly Italian neighborhood people live and where do they go? There’s Gonzaga. Their headquarters are in Rome, Italy,” McCandless said.

McCandless described the neighborhood as a thriving market. With the large amount of people including college students, finding land can be difficult.

“That’s because a lot of people want to be here. All of a sudden, Stockton builds his building and now every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to open up a food concept, wants in. You didn’t see a lot of clothing stores rushing to go there. They’re all tapping into the same market,” McCandless said. “Food is morning, noon and night. You’ll travel three miles for food, but not 15 miles. Those are the issues of the demographic.”

McCandless is also the owner of several Subway franchises in town and even the Loco Dogz restaurant in Cheney. A second location of Loco Dogz is coming to the same retail center that was built John Stockton in David Pizza’s original location.

Clover’s grand opening is Wednesday, May 2nd. They’re located at 913 E. Sharp Ave. Reservations are recommended by calling 487-2937. They serve lunch, dinner and brunch of weekends. Meal prices range from $19-34. You can find their menu and restaurant information online at www.cloverspokane.com.

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