Trading post changes

CHA-CHA-CHANGES  — Some of the major players in the Trading Post team, from left: front of house Grace Bockelman, chef Aaron Arabian and chef Alejandro Diaz.

The Trading Post is leaning into its roots in the new year by reflecting on changes it can make to better suit the needs and interests of the community.

With a resurgence of ideas and a recent change in management, the restaurant is planning on hosting an open house the first weekend of February to meet folks in the community and discuss some of the changes coming to the Post in the near future.

New offerings

While changes at the Trading Post, such as the introduction of a café component, have been slowly happening over the past few months, the restaurant is gearing up for more changes on the horizon — including a broader type of food offering.

Trading Post General Manager Ron Ferrato said that it was natural for the Trading Post to expand its focus.

“We’re going to do dinner nightly — we are finally focused on going to dinner every night,” he said, “and then we’re going to introduce a fast casual model for Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday might be fast casual-plus.”

To go along with the changes, Ferrato said that the restaurant is going to be holding an open house to engage with the community and get some feedback regarding what people want to see. The new model of being open every day and splitting time between serving fast casual food and more formal, sit down options will begin after the open house.

“It’s an opportunity to allow people to get to know us a little more,” said Trading Post Chef Aaron Arabian. “If anyone has feedback or just wants to hang out, we’ll feature food that’s going to be more in the vein of what we’re going to be offering for our fast casual nights. We’ve been testing the waters with our Sunday supper, which is going to stay. We’ve also been doing a focaccia night on Wednesdays, just to see if people are interested in coming in here for something that’s not so much of a sit down meal, and people seem to like that.”

Arabian said that while he wants the Trading Post to continue to be a place where people go for special occasions, he also wants to make it a place where people feel comfortable coming in to grab a beer or a plate of wings.

The decision to switch up the types of food offered was made in part to adapt to what the restaurant has heard from patrons.

“I think it was just a response to the community, just paying attention to what they were telling us,” Ferrato said. “We’ve been listening, we walk around the dining room and we get feedback. We want to cook for Cloverdale, we don’t want to cook for ourselves.”

“To rely on theoretical people coming from far away to the wine country, the space is perfect for in Cloverdale, but cooking for that sort of crowd has not really worked for us because we don’t really get enough (people),” Arabian said.

He added that the more formal food that the restaurant offers on Friday nights or weekends is working and that they aren’t planning on changing that. Rather, they want to open up for more casual mid-week food options as well.

Once the fast casual model gets going, it will primarily be housed in the Trading Posts café side. 

“Part of the impetus to go in this direction was opening up our blue-sky thinking to everyone that’s on the Trading Post team and that includes the investors,” Arabian said. “We all sort of came to this conclusion.”

Looking forward

The ideal picture for the Trading Post is “it being open and comfortable to anybody coming in here,” said front of house Grace Bockelman. 

“I just want it to be inviting and open, and I want people to feel comfortable here and for it to be a place where people really want to go for not only special occasions, but just a midweek bite,” she said.

The sentiment was echoed by both Ferrato and Arabian.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do and put a lot of love into our food and our serve, and we want to keep that going. That and a comfortable, casual vibe aren’t mutually exclusive — we can do both,” Arabian added.

Tod Hill, who serves as the current chairman of the board for the Trading Post said that the changes are representative of a new direction that’s focused on establishing the Trading Post as a “community institution.”

“We’re supporting the Trading Post as a community institution … but we really felt that this new direction of the new team and everything was a chance to realize that vision, of having the Trading Post be this community meeting place,” said Hill. “We invested in the Trading Post because we felt that Cloverdale really deserved to have this kind of place that could bring people together, have great farm-to-table food, so to really realign with that vision to make it come true, we’re all incredibly excited about the direction.”

Hill said that he also views the Trading Post as a community space for events.

“I see fun events happening here. We’re talking about doing a pride event with a disco ball. Why shouldn’t we have that here? Instead of having a set idea of ‘this is what we do,’ it’s actually a mirror to the community and what the community wants. That’s my vision,” he said. 

The Trading Post’s open house will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 3 to 5 p.m.

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