In their latest hospitality endeavour, restaurant franchise Joseph Richard Group is trying something a little more savoury than their traditional pub fare.
S+L Kitchen and Bar is the first steak and seafood restaurant for the chain, which among its 20 establishments, owns gastropubs Townhall Public House and Oak and Thorne in Langley.
“S+L is a new concept,” said Ryan Moreno, CEO of JRG and longtime Langley resident.
“Outside of Vancouver, there’s not a lot of places where you can go for steak.
“The goal with S+L is to bring a service and an experience that people would expect to find in an expensive downtown hotel, (but) in a casual setting.”
Opening next Friday (Jan. 22), S+L (which stands for steak and lobster), is headed by MasterChef Canada Season 2 winner David Jorge, who happens to be a high school friend of Moreno. Menu items include buffalo-fried cauliflower with blue cheese buttermilk dressing, brulee’d smoked maple sugar roasted bone marrow with parsley salad — and Moreno’s favourite — Wagyu beef.
Sourced from the same heard of cattle that serves Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, Wagyu beef comes from a Japanese breed and is generally very expensive.
“(It) is arguably the best quality steak you can buy,” Moreno said.
“Once you have it, it’s not even in the same realm as other steaks — it’s completely different.”
Where many restaurants charge close to $20 an ounce for a Wagyu ribeye, S+L is offering an eight-ounce cut for $41. A six-ounce Wagyu zabuton steak is $25.
“We can give our guests the best products around, but still have that price point that’s not high end, that’s approachable,” Moreno said.
“As soon as you tell someone Wagyu beef, they say ‘oh yeah I’m not paying $150 for a steak.’ But we’re out in Langley, we know the customer here, we have lots of friends and family out here. We want to be approachable. Anybody who likes steak can come and have a Wagyu. Why not? Why do you have to go to a high end place and spend $200 on a steak, when we can give it to you for $40 or $25?”
Located at 8399 200 St., S+L is not the first restaurant to make a go of the 7,000 square-foot facility, but that hasn’t deterred Moreno.
“That one location that we picked out, we’ve always liked it,” he said.
“We know it’s had a bit of a rough history.
“Any restaurant that you want to open is probably going to be where someone else didn’t make it.”
Growing up in Walnut Grove, Moreno, and his business partner André Bourque, opened their first pub, Townhall Public House, in Langley five years ago and continue to call this community home.
“Langley is our backyard,” Moreno said.
“(The) places we’ve created are the places we want to go. We don’t want to have to go Downtown to go out somewhere cool, so we said ‘let’s open up a cool place.’”
Although S+L strays from the modern pubs on which JRG has built their brand, it is still offering the same atmosphere the company has become known for, Moreno said.
“We want to have an approachable way to have a steak and seafood restaurant,” he said.
“It’s a casual dining experience, but with some of the amenities you would expect in an upscale restaurant.”
These amenities include the A Cut Above knife club, where regular guests can have their very own name-engraved knife set aside for each time they visit, craft cocktails and specialty service where bartenders mix martinis right at the table, and tablets for kids to keep them occupied.
The restaurant has also incorporated a modern interior design, which Moreno fashioned himself.
“The decor is unreal,” he said.
“When you see the room its not like anything else.
“For anyone that knows us, we try to be very froward with our designs. With the pubs it’s about having a bunch of kegs and bottles and different things that we’ve done — that very restoration hardware style. With S+L, when you come inside there’s a very new architecture concrete wall with over 100 knifes jabbed into it, you’ve got two life sized cows suspended, there’s an oyster bar — you’ve got to see it.
“One thing I feel we’ve always tried to do well is offer our guests a great atmosphere.
“Something that people will walk in and say ‘woah, this is awesome.’”