It’s the tale of two Evansville restaurants.
It’s the circle of life in a small-town restaurant community – one door closes, and another opens.
Unfortunately, local favorite Ri Ra was the one closing this week — leaving restaurant regulars without a watering hole, and restaurant staff without jobs.
The same week Ri Ra closed its doors, newcomer Maidens Brewery & Pub opened theirs near Franklin Street.
Maidens manager Chris Hedges has been part of the Evansville restaurant community for 25 years. He says he’s experienced the downside of the unpredictable restaurant industry before.
“People come in and find out they don’t have a job, and that’s rent that has to be paid, that’s food that has to go on the table that they’re missing out on,” he says.
So when Ri Ra closed, Maidens stepped in – they gave Ri Ra’s former employees a chance to get back in the restaurant … and back behind the bar.
“We’re basically kind of the same background, we’re both kind of English pub-style of seating. We felt like they’ve always been known for good service, good food, and we thought it’d be a perfect fit.”
Hedges and his staff are welcoming former Ri Ra employees with open arms – he says he’s hired at least four so far, and expects that number to climb.
“We’re really happy to have them. We’ve already had a couple of people start training in front of house and ….they just fit right in with everybody here,” he says.
As for any regulars who might be looking for a new bar? Well, they’re invited too.
“Come on over, come on over. We have a great staff that you’re used to and great staff here.”
Now, employees in the Evansville restaurant community will have to spend less time wondering if they’re in … or out.
(This story was originally published on March 8, 2018)