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First Look: Sauced

look_09_3For the past 14 years, Ria Pell has had her eye on the building on the corner of Edgewood and Waddell Streets in Inman Park. With its jauntily angled plate windows and geometric midcentury modern lines, it looked just a bit — if you squint — like a vintage piano store or maybe the Jetsons’ rec room.

About a year ago she took the lease over from its former tenant, 11:11 Teahouse, and on Christmas night opened Sauced restaurant as a gift to all the retro design buffs in the city.

look_09_2The Look: With its glossy black naugahyde booths and incandescent light emanating from vintage lamps, Sauced gives off a vibe that at once brings to mind Graceland, that gloriously divey tavern your friend took you to in Philadelphia, and the best finished basement on the street you grew up on.

“It was a ton of hands-on work with carpenters and metal workers,” says Pell of the build out. Woodworkers recycled the bar top from the building’s roof rafters, and the warm wooden paneling — so in line with the basement speakeasy theme — was already on the walls, buried under paint.

photo 2

"Sticky Fingers:" Veggie, shrimp and "Nauga bone" skewers

The Food: Pell, who has a following for her breakfasts at Ria’s Bluebird in Grant Park, brings a retro touch to the menu, as well.

“I wanted to do something that’s a little different and special and like me, but not an extension of eggs,” she says with a laugh.
Menu items include a Beef Wellington, though Pell’s version features braised short ribs rather than roasted tenderloin under its pastry crust.

Yet Pell also keeps her vegetarian clientele in mind with a number of veg-friendly items, including Southern dolmas made with collard greens instead of grape leaves. She also makes her own seitan — wheat-gluten protein — which she playfully calls “Nauga bone.”

Southern Dolmas

Southern Dolmas

“The name is kind of a shout out to the kalebone at Soul Vegetarian,” Pell says, “but also my play on the whole farm-to-table thing. There was so much naugahyde in the space, that this was my joke, my way of saying I’m using the whole animal.
Pell wasn’t prepared for the intensive process of making seitan.

“It’s a lot of work,” she sighs. “First you make a dough just like you’re making bread. Then you have to wash off the starch and finally boil it in vegetable stock. Those hippies have their work cut out for them!”

But Pell is thrilled with the results, which she both skewers and fries for an appetizer, and tosses into a creamy mushroom pasta dish.

“It comes out with that spongy, awesome texture,” she enthuses. “It’s just like a Swanson’s Salisbury steak!”

Know Before You Go: Sauced only accepts cash, but there’s an ATM on the premises. “It’s an interesting way not to have Visa suck you dry,” says Pell, who passes on the savings to her customers. “My fellow business owners are watching this and want very much for it to work.”

24 comments Add your comment

AJ

January 19th, 2010
11:22 am

As for the Cash only: BOOOO. As a non-cash user, I hope this DOESN’T work at all. Long live plastic!

jimmy

January 19th, 2010
12:03 pm

My company paid about $45k in credit card fees last year, which sucks, but it’s just a cost of doing business. Credit cards are easier that cash on businesses, reconciliations are much easier, no cash is stolen/lost, consumers like it, and I think it promotes more traffic for restaurants at this price point.

When Fellini’s used to only accept cash, there were numerous occasions where they lost my business because I didn’t feel like going to an ATM. The additional gross margin generated from one extra visit pays for the fees they will pay on my next 10 visits. I hate those ATM fees worse than just about anything too.

If they have plenty of business, then hey, more power to them, but there’s a good chance they won’t see me any time soon. Not because I’m taking a stand, but because I rarely carry cash.

Charlie

January 19th, 2010
12:29 pm

Cash only is a great way for a restaurant to do business. Over 90% of credit card fraud originates in in restaurants. Good luck Ria!!

AG

January 19th, 2010
12:30 pm

Great food and great addition to Inman Park. Love the Beef Wellington and the little bacon peanut brittle. Bluebird is great as well but I’m not a morning person so this is a welcome addition.

Kay

January 19th, 2010
12:33 pm

Thumbs Up Diners are cash only and they have been around for about 8 years, Maybe it will work for Sauced. I wish them good luck.

Johnny B

January 19th, 2010
12:51 pm

I have been a faithful Ria’s customer for years, and will continue to do so. I am sure this restaurant will be as amazing as Ria is; however, the cash only position they have taken will keep me from dining there as often as I would have otherwise (I NEVER use cash). It is 2010, but maybe cash only is part of the “vintage” theme. LOL

Jason

January 19th, 2010
1:02 pm

Thumbs Up can get away with cash-only because it’s a relatively cheap breakfast place that doesn’t serve alcohol. When you have two customers w/ $16-$20 entrees, $4 sides, and alcohol, cash doesn’t work so well. I wish them luck though.

James

January 19th, 2010
1:18 pm

I wish them much success, been a ‘cash’ guy for many years and don’t see myself relying more on the plastic just because “it is 2010″ ;-)

Noah

January 19th, 2010
1:20 pm

They have done the cash only thing with Ria Bluebird and done quite well. Sure, some will not do it but if they are a good place they will get business.

Lincoln

January 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

Yeah, I have to agree that the cash thing is kind of stupid. They, obviously have the right to accept cash only, but I guarantee you that the 3% cc fees are more than made up by increased spending by customers when they can use credit rather than cash.

Cash only is a good way to launder money, though, or cheat on your income taxes.

M

January 19th, 2010
1:35 pm

Interesting…Ria’s accepts credit cards (although not amex).

Maria

January 19th, 2010
2:23 pm

The article states they have an ATM on premise, so what’s the big deal? Besides, there are so few ATMs around here that it’s good to know there’s another one nearby.

Nancy

January 19th, 2010
2:42 pm

I spent a few days in Hollywood Florida after Christmas, and most of the oceanfront restaurants do not accept cash. Most of them do have access to an ATM and will deduct the fee, if any, from your food bill. I think it’s a great idea if it keeps the prices down!

Angus

January 19th, 2010
4:31 pm

Ate there Friday.

Had (shared) the brittle, black-eyed pea fritters, dolmas, wellington, spare ribs.

All was 3-4 stars on 5 star scale. Good wine selection for the $$$.

Sorry, but the cash-only thing is stupid at a place where a good dinner for two can easily push $100. And it probably eliminates most business related gatherings.

AJ

January 20th, 2010
7:34 am

Maria – Those types of ATMs are HORRIBLE: 1) They have a higher incidence of fraud than a “regular” bank ATM; and 2) Their fees are ridiculous. So instead of Sauced paying the fee to the bank, the customer who is a couple of dollars short in cash will pay it. No thanks. As for keeping her prices down, let her raise her prices 3%. Seriously, 3%?? That’s her reasoning? Instead of $16 for an entree, it’s now $16.50? That’s her concern for her customers? Get real. I don’t want to calculate my meal and hope it comes out right. Oh, and if I did eat there and wanted to tip 20%, but only had enough for 15% – guess what, it’s the waiter who will be the one who is hurt. I guarantee it!

And while I love Inman Park, let’s be real, it’s not the safest place in the world. So is having a wallet full of cash, the best idea?

GretchenS

January 20th, 2010
10:57 am

Agree with you AJ- frankly if I were a business operator I would be reluctant to keep a pile of cash in house all night as well.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vegetarian News, Chef Ria. Chef Ria said: check it out, cover of the AJC Living Section!! http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2010/01/19/first-look-sauced/ [...]

Gone Fishin'

January 20th, 2010
3:01 pm

Cash is a dinosaur. Evolve or suffer extinction.

Grant

January 20th, 2010
3:56 pm

I believe debit card fees are much lower than credit card fees. Could be a good compromise.

Sauced Fan

January 20th, 2010
4:28 pm

I wasn’t sure why she chose to do cash only but after my visit to the restaurant last weekend and reading this article, I understand. Ria IS passing the savings on to the customer. Beer/wine prices are well below the norm for a dining experience of this sort and the menu prices were well received by our 6 top. We enjoyed one of every appetizer, an entree each, 3 bottles of wine and a few sides for $150 total. We are planning to go back and bring our cash with us

uberVU - social comments

January 20th, 2010
6:24 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veggie_Hive: First Look: Sauced http://bit.ly/5M1Do2…

mv

January 20th, 2010
6:52 pm

I was at Sauced last friday nite, just for drinks at the bar. The place was packed out. There are tons of people who could care less about the ‘inconvenience’ of the cash only policy. Ria will have no problem. Perhaps this is a way to weed out the high maintenance and overly paranoid people from vibing out the place.

Terry

January 22nd, 2010
5:01 pm

Woo! Go on Ria! It looks beautiful. What a great addition for the communities of Cabbagetown, Inman Park, 4th Ward, and Reynoldstown.

I hate rubes

February 23rd, 2010
4:42 pm

I’m sure there are plenty lame chain restaurants who take credit cards. They will reheat yr tv dinner quality entree for you. Honestly if cash only is a deal breaker, yr prb a cheap tipper and you should stay home and eat a grilled cheese I hear McDonald’s takes debt cards. Not really a reason to eat there but…