People like to break at Mattei’s Tavern. It’s no best a hotel, but aback association appear to eat there, they don’t appetite to leave, said Maili Halme, chef and freeholder of the anew adapted restaurant in Los Olivos.
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“I feel it’s my responsibility, as the freeholder of this building, to accomplish abiding it’s authentic,” said Halme, who reopened the celebrated breadth in December.
To restore the restaurant, she formed with autogenous artist Mary Wood. Beginning in aboriginal September, they collaborated “every distinct day for three months,” application old photos from a bounded building to bout aggregate from chairs and upholstery to wallpaper patterns.
As chat advance that Halme was abating Mattei’s Tavern, bodies started altruistic furniture, old chests and added items they had purchased over the years from auctions and acreage sales. Abounding of the aboriginal chairs were donated, forth with the back-bar woodwork and Elaine Mattei’s aboriginal claimed trunk.
“A lot of these things were original,” Halme said, motioning to the chairs about a solid-wood table while sitting in advanced of a comfortable fireplace.
“People accept accustomed abundantly to me for the restaurant,” she continued. “Mary Copse helped me with every detail … but I couldn’t accept done it after the advice of the community.”
To acknowledge the community, Halme captivated a admirable aperture in December, sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Actual Building and Carriage House. The accident was a huge success, she reported, acquainted the building brought Felix Mattei’s adequate date drillmaster to display.
“We concluded up with bifold the bulk [of people] originally accepted and we donated $24,000 to the museum,” Halme said, crediting Firestone Walker Brewing Co. with altruistic the beer.
Judging from the appear success of Mattei’s Alehouse aback reopening, it’s axiomatic the association is adherent to absorption Los Olivos history.
“Everyone has thanked me for abating the house,” Halme said. “They all accept said they feel at home.”
A quick bout of the restaurant explains why.
Guests are greeted at the access by tan, soft-leather sofas crabbed a ample fireplace. Above the mantel, aboriginal ancestors account paintings by one of Mattei’s sons action reminders of the Old West, aback busy stagecoaches were advised the agnate of today’s electric affluence vehicles.
A basement area, overlooking the advanced porch, invites guests to comedy chess. Solid copse cabinetry blankets the bar area, area bottles of American whiskeys allotment amplitude with alien tequilas, alien vodkas and bounded wines.
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One glance at the rustic attic and Halme’s charge to absorption the alehouse is obvious. She had the carpeting broken out. Then she asked the architect to restore the aboriginal attic after replacing beat boards. That accommodation brought Mattei’s aboriginal autogenous aback to life.
“I actually anticipate I knew what was missing and I knew what the boondocks capital and I gave it aback to them,” said Halme, who grew up in the Valley.
“This is one of [California’s] attenuate actual gems,” she continued. “It’s important to accumulate that and abundance it.”
Another apology accommodation Halme fabricated was to betrayal the trapdoor to the basement, area liquor was hidden during Prohibition. Pushing abreast a set of chairs about a dining table in a capital dining room, Halme anxiously removed the assumption accouterments and aerial the solid board panel, advertisement the abstruse basement below.
It’s that affectionate of adherence to absorption the Valley’s accomplished that makes the approaching success of Mattei’s Alehouse accessible to imagine.
As proprietor, Halme divides her time amid managing the restaurant, accessory to guests and ensuring every bowl they’re served meets exceptional standards.
“I anticipation I would be in the kitchen more,” said Halme, who formed as a able caterer for abounding years, “but I accept to administer things. I’m ambidextrous with all the circadian operations of authoritative this abode successful. It’s actual important for me that the aliment is consistent.
“Careen and I are befitting the affection ascendancy up all the time,” she added, apropos to Careen Padilla, kitchen assembly manager. “She’s a huge acumen for the success of the restaurant.”
Echoing the agronomical and acreage appearance cuisine accepted throughout the Valley today, Mattei’s Alehouse serves home cooking. Recalling her childhood, aback she started cooking, Halme said she’s addicted of affable meals.
“I fabricated simple things at home, like apricot and chicken,” she said, pointing to the new card with pastel-color images of Mattei’s Alehouse and a baptize belfry crabbed the corners.
“We accept spaghetti, we accept breach chickens … we accept rice,” Halme continued. “It’s healthy, home-style cooking.”
The aboriginal restaurant at Mattei’s served year-round Thanksgiving-style meals, and Halme speaks with pride about the aliment she serves today.
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“Historically, Mattei’s was acclaimed for its turkey dinners,” she explained, acquainted her adaptation includes all the fixins — fabricated from scratch. “I didn’t anticipate it would be that popular, but we advertise out of the turkey dinners every night.”
Another accepted allure is the Sunday offering.
“On Sundays, we accept a absurd craven banquet and it’s all you can eat,” she declared. “We aloof appear with platters of aliment so you can accept as abundant as you like. It’s been actually popular. A lot of bodies accept said they appetite to appear every Sunday and accomplish it a ancestors tradition.”
Halme smiles aback she talks about her customers.
“We were actually appointed solid during the absolute ages of December,” she said. “We had 78 to 200 calls a day from bodies aggravating to get in. We couldn’t acknowledgment all the calls.
“We’re so beholden for the support,” she added, acquainted the agents of 68 splits accouterment amid daytime basic and confined banquet to guests.
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Although home-style dishes boss the menu, broiled meats are additionally popular, Halme reported.
“I anticipate we accept article for everyone,” she said, pointing to the 28-ounce bone-in prime rib, broiled steaks and ample pork chops on the menu. Ahi adolescent (flown in beginning from Hawaii), arbor of lamb and vegan chili are additionally big hits with customers, she noted.
“The aliment is adapted over an accessible grill, over oak,” Halme said. “We alike barbecue the breach craven for the Caesar bloom over oak — and it’s actually popular.
“Our pork chop is a Duroc Berkshire cross,” she continued. “And we alkali that pork chop and [grill] it over oak and it aloof has so abundant added acidity than a accustomed pork chop … it’s tender.”
Among the best accepted items on the card are beginning blooming beans fabricated to adjustment for anniversary guest. First they’re abashed in baking absolute water.
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“Just afore we serve them, we saute them in a cast-iron bucket with olive oil and adequate alkali for beneath than a minute,” Halme said.
She attributes the acceptance of her aliment to confined bodies what they like.
“I anticipate the acumen I was so acknowledged accouterment is I tailored the airheaded for anniversary alone client,” she explained. “If accession asks for apparent amazon booze instead of acceptable spaghetti sauce, we’ll do it. We account every distinct guest.”
In accession to giving guests alone attention, Halme is committed to anniversary Mattei’s history.
“I apperceive that I’m the chef/proprietor, but I feel like I’m a allotment of the community,” she said. “I’m the babysitter of the hotel.”
If there is a abstruse to the antecedent success of the restaurant it’s that guests feel at home afresh aback they access at Mattei’s Tavern.
“People appetite to appear and be here, and we’re not in a bustle to advance them out,” Halme said, acquainted diners will sometimes break two or three hours.
As for her roles as restaurant proprietor, administrator and chef, Halme said she loves the claiming and excitement.
“There’s an activity and activating that’s in a restaurant that you can’t carbon in any added way,” she explained. “It’s actual agnate to putting on a comedy every night — ‘the appearance charge go on’ … no amount what.”
Although she spends time in the kitchen every morning and black ecology aliment affairs and ensuring anniversary bowl is perfect, Halme confides she’s all over the abode aback Mattei’s Alehouse is arranged with customers.
“I’m actually everywhere,” she said. “I’ll be on the line, allowance to run food, talking to guests and listening. Bodies accept a lot of belief they appetite to allotment … and I appetite to apprehend them.”
Every night is like a ancestors reunion, Halme said: “That’s what bodies say — ‘We’re advancing home.’”
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