Of Rice & Men Fills a Main St. Vacancy
A Blue LLama pop-turns permanent.
by Micheline Maynard
From the September, 2020 issue
In March, the Blue LLama Jazz Club on S. Main was supposed to be celebrating its first anniversary. Instead, it was forced to end live performances, due to the state's Covid-19 shutdown order.
"This isn't how we wanted it to be," says Carolyn Pullen, vice president of sales and marketing at Multiverse Investments and Hospitality, the club's owner.
But the kitchen, which has gotten its own share of attention, never closed.
Blue LLama had never dealt with restaurant delivery services, and Pullen says its food most likely couldn't have survived a drive.
Instead, the restaurant created a new menu, Blue LLama Express, with dishes designed to endure time spent in a carryout container. Then the management team began brainstorming with chef Josh Wetshtein about what other kinds of food they could create.
One idea became a pop-up, Of Rice and Men, whose menu was inspired by Wetshtein's interest in pan-Asian cuisine, from places such as Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, and China.
Now, Of Rice and Men is a brick-and-mortar restaurant next door to Blue LLama at 312 S. Main, in the space previously occupied by Dessous.
It opened at the end of July, with eighty socially-distanced seats at tables and ten more at the bar. Popular dishes include crispy duck dumplings, at $10; a wok-fired whole fish, at $45, and Edo, a futuristic-looking green-tea-flavored cheesecake, at $12.
A pop-up no more, Pullen says Of Rice is now a permanent part of the group's restaurant lineup. "We definitely plan to be there for the long haul," she says.
Of Rice and Men, 312 S. Main. (734) 222-0202. Tues.-Thurs. 5-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5-11 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon. ofriceandmen.com
[Originally published in September, 2020.]
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