video by Rafe Scobey-Thal
Spencer is a restaurant dedicated to quality and craft.
Our idea is fairly simple, yet unique to Ann Arbor. We envision a friendly neighborhood restaurant that balances the feel of a casual wine bar with craveable fare of local ingredients. Open from late morning to late evening, we will serve coffee and pastries, take-out lunches, seasonal small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards, and distinctive beer and wine.
We see Spencer as part of the community. We see regulars coming in for a mid-morning scone and light lunch, we see tourists drawn in by the aromas and staying for a drink, we see residents coming down from the apartments nearby for a warm, weeknight meal. We see a place with a sense of familiarity, of shared experience, of being in one's own home. We see wooden communal tables, elegant furnishings, counters brimming with pastries and parchment-wrapped sandwiches, sparkling taps of beer. We see sunny sidewalk tables, eager staff with laden trays, raised glasses and wide smiles.
Nestled downtown in the hustle and heart of downtown, where historic buildings take new purpose, where both locals and newcomers feel at ease - this is where we see ourselves. Our concept stems from the idea of a working larder - a kitchen-in-motion where customers can observe our techniques, learn about our inspirations, and enjoy creative and honest food made with the highest of standards.
Now nearing the end of our long process, we are reaching out to everyone we know to help us in our final push. This Kickstarter represents the final phase of our fundraising, the last 10% we need to complete our build out, buy our remaining equipment and ingredients, and get our doors open for business. No contribution is too small. No support goes unappreciated. We wouldn't be anywhere without everyone's support thus far, and we can't wait to serve you all soon.
Since 2011, we have been working in Ann Arbor to build our reputation under the name Central Provisions. However, we recently changed given the success of a similarly-named restaurant in Portland, ME. We chose our new name after researching an old Ann Arbor grocer named Lamb & Spencer, though shortened it to simply Spencer, which actually means ‘one who dispenses provisions.’ We like the name for its simplicity and range, while still seeming like a natural continuation from our previous work.
As Central Provisions, we have built a large and dedicated following. Our weekly pop-up at 327 Braun Court was a surprise smash debut, with packed tables and a rave review in the Ann Arbor News. Our cheese and food classes at Literati Bookstore have become some of their most popular events. Our seasonal dinners with local partners such as Green Things Farm and Zingerman’s Deli have been runaway successes – each event quickly selling out with a waitlist. Below are photos of our most recent Farm Dinner at Green Things, by the talented Cat Buswell.
Risks and challenges
The challenges of opening a small restaurant are many. Build out, design, fundraising, staffing, permitting, even just picking out a dishwasher - the list goes on and on. We are already past many of these hurdles, though a few still remain.
Our two biggest challenges now are acquiring our liquor license, and completing our fundraising.
Our liquor application has already passed the Ann Arbor City Council and is now in the hands of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. At this point, it's mostly a waiting game. Instead of treading water, we will be opening for lunch hours during this time, focusing on developing our recipes, training our staff, and working out any kinks in the system before we hit full steam.
Meanwhile, we're still working to cross the finish line on our fundraising goals. We've made smart choices about our business plan, built strong relationships with investors, and have put all of our savings into this business. But there is still equipment to buy and bills to pay. By donating to our Kickstarter campaign, or by recommending it to friends, you help us get closer to our goal, closer to serving you delicious food and cheese soon.
As a member of our community and potential supporter, we of course would love to hear your feedback and solutions to these (and other) challenges that face our small business.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)