by Jay Kitterman, consultant, Culinary Institute, Lincoln Land Community College
When asked how their business has changed during this crazy virus, both Linda and Richard Tyrer, owners of Lime Street Café located on the west wide of Springfield, commented that unfortunately eating out for many of their longtime customers is no longer a “relaxed dining experience. Now it has become more of a rushed experience.”
Yes, their regulars are fortunately returning to Lime Street, but now they are preferring to order one or at the most two drinks, eat dinner and soon leave.
Richard comes from a very traditional “classical” background. He joined the British Royal Navy and was selected to attend the Catering/Culinary School at Liverpool University. The rest is history. He feels blessed that he has worked at some of the world’s best hotels in Canada and the U.S. From England, he immigrated to Canada and started at the grand Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, and from there, the Royal York in Toronto. The Royal York, built in the 1920s, is a 1,300 room, 28 story (at one time the tallest building in Canada) hotel with multiple restaurants and lounges, and banquet facilities serving over 2,000 meals. Many consider the Royal York to be one of the finest hotels in the world.
In 1967, Richard moved to Atlanta to open the Hyatt Regency Peachtree Hotel and stayed there for six years. After a stint at the Hyatt in Dallas he owned/operated a couple of restaurants in Charlotte, N.C. and then on to the Naples Beach Hotel in Naples, Fla. This was a very important move, for it was there that he met Linda.
Linda also has had an extensive and impressive background in the hospitality industry. She started at the Naples, Fla. Beach Hotel as a waitress and assistant restaurant manager. The hotel was so impressed with her abilities that they sent her during the summers to Cornell Hospitably in Ithaca, N.Y. and she apprenticed at the Breakers in Palm Beach. She was serving as catering director in Naples when one day her new boss arrived at the resort. She asked me not to describe her new boss’s leadership style; all I know is that they soon married.
Richard came to Springfield to be general manager of the Renaissance Hotel (now President Abraham Lincoln Hotel) in downtown Springfield. He remembers meeting me at the Holiday Inn East where I was general manager at the time. We now come to 1988 when the Renaissance Hotel group asked him to transfer to another city. Richard and Linda liked Springfield and fortunately Dr. Paul Mahon suggested they open a restaurant at a property he owned. Lime Street opened in late 1988 with Beatles décor inspired from Richard’s hometown of Liverpool.
The pandemic has definitely been a challenge for them. Initially, when they were just allowed to have curbside service, and it was not very “lucrative.” Lime Street has had its “regulars” for over 30 years, and they are slowly returning. One might describe their customer base as “mature,” and that is fine with Richard and Linda. “Like family you know when they walk in the door what kind of cocktail/wine they prefer, and the ‘family’ members feel very comfortable dining at Lime Street. Like family we have all grown up together.”
When asked what kitchen tools he cannot do without, Richard’s immediate response was good sauté pans and steam table. Right before the shutdown they had a brand new double oven and flat top grill installed and are finally now able to use them. At home when they do dine together, Linda does most of the cooking and they enjoy English cottage pie, spaghetti, pork roast – nothing formal with an emphasis on freshness, similar to the restaurant.
Richard is at the market daily purchasing product for that night’s business rather than purchasing large cases of items from distributors that might spoil. I asked what we would find in their home refrigerator and they said leftover piazza, fresh fruit and they love cheeses. During this time, he thanks food distributor M. J. Kellner for their understanding and professionalism.
Finally, I asked what advice he had for future restaurateurs. “Be there every day, be involved and remember the importance of your customer and staff – try and keep them happy.” They are thankful for all of their employees who have been with them for many years and are now considered part of their “family.”
Thank you to Linda and Richard Tyrer. Below is a recipe that Richard provided.
Lime Street Cafe Chicken & Scallops
4 – 3 0z Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp.. butter
10-12 Scallops-depending on size
1 oz. Brandy
1 oz. Golden sherry
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ cup heavy cream
2 strips cooked bacon-diced
Splash lemon juice
Saute chicken in butter. Turn over and add scallops to sear slightly. Flame with brandy (be careful) and cook down. Add heavy cream, sherry and mustard; start with 1 tsp mustard.
Add bacon and cook until cream thickens. Add a splash of lemon. Taste and add more mustard to your taste. Serve over rice or pasta.
A few weeks ago, Carol and I had the opportunity to dine outside at Augie’s Front Burner’s final night of service. Sharon joined us for a few minutes and said for the first time in many years she was not sure what she would do on Sunday and the following week. In past, it was always planning for the restaurant operation, paying the bills and trying to stay one step ahead of Augie. We first encountered Augie at his restaurant in Sarasota, Fla. in the early 1990’s. For many years prior, he had been the executive chef at the premier Sarasota St. Armand’s restaurant Café L’ Europe. Thank you, Augie and Sharon, for all your culinary contributions to Springfield, and I am confident they will continue to have a presence in the local cooking scene.