Winfield eatery blooms under ex-Blossom chef
WINFIELD, W.Va. -- If you're craving a favorite from the Blossom restaurant, which closed suddenly at the end of July, Matthew Grover can help you with that.
Grover, chef at the popular diner on Quarrier Street in Charleston, now has his own family-style restaurant in Winfield.
Since he opened Delmar Family Restaurant, he's had former Blossom customers come to order the famous tuna melts and, soon, Grover plans to offer another favorite -- tomato bisque -- when the weather turns cold.
"Anything anyone wants, I'll do -- just give me time," said Grover, who promises he'll also fix the burger he created at Blossom -- the DELMAR, an anagram of the first letters of his, his wife's and his four kids' names.
"At Blossom, no one knew what [DELMAR] meant," he said. "It's a burger with American and pepper-jack [cheeses], bacon, sautéed onions and barbecue sauce."
To create a buzz about his new eatery, Grover turned to the Putnam County Courthouse, judicial building and Board of Education, which are right across the street from the restaurant.
"I asked them if they ever came down the hill to eat lunch, and they told me, 'No, we don't have 45 minutes,'" Grover recalled. His restaurant's location used to house a Thai restaurant and then PJ's pastry shop.
"So I put together an express lunch menu of chicken salad, egg salad and tuna salad and told them it's guaranteed to be ready in 15 minutes or it's free, as long as someone has the meal with chips instead of fries," Grover said. "I've never had to give one away."
The speedy menu has caught on, and Grover said a steady stream of people eat at Delmar's throughout the day. His idea of spreading the word to employees in the county buildings worked.
"I've got 'em now," Grover said. "When they do come, they all come. I love seeing them walk down that hill."
Before becoming chef at the Blossom, Grover had a job he loved at Edgewood Summit, an independent living community for seniors, in Charleston. He started an apprenticeship there right out of culinary training at Carver Career and Technical School, where he worked under chef Jeff Pennington.
"He's been my mentor," Grover said. "I still talk to him at least once a week."
One of the owners of the Blossom restaurant, which changed hands in 2010, was a high school friend of Grover's and asked him to be chef.
"I was scared to death ... these plates had my name on them, and I was used to being an assistant," he said.
He worked as chef at the art deco diner for about eight months and then left in June 2011 on his own terms, for reasons he doesn't wish to talk publicly about.
The restaurant suddenly closed for good after lunch service on July 27. Grover said after he left, another chef was never hired.
A main difference between Delmar's and the Blossom is that business isn't packed into a two-hour rush, Grover said.
"There isn't an overwhelming lunchtime rush where everything is compacted into two hours. Here, lunch is served from 11 to 4, and business stays steady the whole time," he said.
The more relaxed atmosphere of Delmar's makes his family-style, country cuisine even more of a perfect fit.
"I sell more meatloaf than anything else," he said.
The restaurant still sells pastries from the same chef that created them for PJ's, the restaurant that handed over the keys to Grover.
During dinner service, Grover gets help from his wife and kids.
"It's our restaurant," he said. "It can be tough, but it's very rewarding."
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.