In February, the popular Main Street restaurant hired Jason Brumm as executive chef. According to manager Charles O'Brien, the previous chef changed the offerings too much and in the wrong ways. They needed someone who could restore the kitchen to its original mission as well as keep the menu fresh.
Brumm was the right man for the job.
A native of Boulder, Colorado, the new chef understands mountain towns and what makes them great. He spent several years in Seaside, Florida, and knows what vacationers want from a meal. He's also run two of his own restaurants and can manage a kitchen while catering to locals who keep a business going year-round, Brumm said.
It took him all of two days to see what was wrong and execute the changes to get back on the right track. Namely, focus on what Butcher's is known for: steaks.
"We're a chop house," he said. "If what you're expecting isn't on the menu, there's a disconnect with your guests."
Brumm said his 17 years of experience and time as an executive chef at three four-star restaurants gave him the confidence and know-how he needed to make the changes his employers desired.
"Confidence is infectious in a management role," he said. "It's like in combat, you've got to trust your captain."
People will notice that confidence in servers if they haven't been back since February, Brumm said. The menu is simple and solid and the restaurant staff knows guests will enjoy what they recommend.
One example of simplification is the sides to go with steak. The new menu has many old favorites and many "composed" entrees, but it also has à la carte options allowing diners to choose their steak and choose their sides.
"Butcher's has always had great steak, but there needs to be creativity and liveliness to the food," Brumm said.
Another change is seafood. No more frozen stuff.
After working in Florida for several years, Brumm knows the power of fresh salmon, halibut and tuna. He's noticed that people in the Mountain West are wary of seafood because they couldn't get it fresh. With jets and airplanes, those days are gone, he said.
Brumm came here directly from Nashville where he owned his own restaurant. He said resort towns like Park City have a "tighter grouping of better restaurants" than large cities like Nashville. He believes it's for two reasons. The first is that it takes amazing quality to get the locals out and stay open 12 months of the year.
The second is that tourists who travel the world know good food and expect it on their vacations.
"You can't fake it," he said.
That's why his kitchen makes everything from scratch: desserts, sauces, even stock.
O'Brien said he's especially impressed with the "southern flair" Brumm brings with him from Tennessee.
"That allows us to continue doing what we do best, but update things a little bit. Especially in this economy, you need a little change, but nothing too drastic," O'Brien said.
Pleasing locals is important to Butcher's, O'Brien said. That's part of the reason they made such a major change half-way through the ski season.
Chris McKenbry eats at Butcher's two or three times a month. He said he loves steak and was really disappointed by the menu changes made by the previous chef. He still hasn't seen the return of some of his favorites such as the prime rib dip sandwich.
McKenbry said he's noticed the return of popular items over the past few months and is glad for the effort being made.
Butcher's Chop House & Bar
751 Main Street