Why We Love Evan & Sarah Rich
This husband-and-wife team is the perfect example of sharing a dream with someone and going for it. For all their drive and determination, they’re still fun, easygoing people who want to cook you a really, really good dinner.
“At the core of it all, we just wanted to create an environment where we would feel comfortable dining with friends and family.” – Evan Rich
“We’re both bringing something to the table. Rather than one person just saying, ‘This is the dish,’ we can see from different perspectives. Then hopefully put them all together to make an even better dish.” – Sarah Rich
Was there a moment each of you knew you wanted to stick with cooking as a career?
Evan: It wasn’t an exact moment, it just sort of organically happened. When I went to the Culinary Institute of America, I learned about the culture and history and passion people put in. Then, luckily, I took a job with some really great people who wanted to push themselves, and then kept spiraling out from there. It just all came together. Next thing I know, I’m like, ‘I haven’t done anything else in my life other than cook, so, I guess that’s what I’m doing!’
Sarah: I don’t know I had a specific moment either. Growing up, I always wanted to have a restaurant. I would make a milkshake in the kitchen, and pretend I was Julia Child. I wanted my parents to quit their jobs and open a family restaurant—which all seems insane at this point. I always loved food, but I never really realized it could be a career until after college, and the rest is history.
How long after meeting each other did you guys think you’d open a restaurant together?
Evan: As soon as Sarah met me, she fell in love and was like, ‘I’m going to whatever I need to to spend the rest of my life with this guy.’
Sarah: My future life flashed before my eyes, and I knew exactly where I needed to be!
What’s the difference between owning a restaurant and working for one?
Sarah: When we worked at Bouley, he used to always say, ‘consistency is key.’ That can mean quality of the food, experience, your hours on the door, a lot of things. That was probably the most important thing I learned.
Evan: Every chef I’ve ever worked for has taught me something that’s brought me to where I am today. Chef Tusk taught me to be seasonal and spontaneous with vegetables from the market. Just be creative without being nervous about changing things.
As your business has grown, how have your roles evolved?
Sarah: When we opened Rich Table, we were both working the line. Now, there’s no possible way we could ever do that with all there is to manage. There’s definitely been an evolution. And you’re taught to think you need to do everything. But then you realize it’s not sustainable and you’re better off if you can find people who are really good at things you are not. Then you have a great team of people making sure it’s all running smoothly.
Evan: You soon realize you’re not just the chef of a restaurant. You’re the owner, and people’s paychecks and livelihoods depend on your ability to make the right decisions that will help keep them employed and provide a great work experience.
How do you make people feel welcome in your restaurants?
Evan: We look at it as our home. Everyone who walks in it’s like they just came to our home. You’re our guest and from the moment they walk into when they walk out, everyone here is responsible for showing them a great time.
Sarah: We love cooking, and we got into this industry because we love the hospitality of it.
Evan: That word is kind of thrown around or forgotten. We pride ourselves on it. We appreciate people coming in, spending their hard-earned money with us and want to make sure we live up to their expectations and show them what we’ve dedicated our lives to.
What do you guys talk about when you aren’t talking about the restaurants?
Sarah: ...Huh? I don’t understand those words.
Evan: Hah! I mean, there are people who say, ‘I could never work with my spouse.’ But, we’ve created a world where work is our life. And not in that sad way. But this is our passion, we go out to eat and discuss positives and negatives, problems, what we can do with Rich Table. We talk about other stuff, too. Our children, aspirations, exercise, whatever—
Sarah: —What should we eat for dinner?
Evan: Yeah! We love what we do so much, that our lives definitely revolve around food.
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