Friday, April 14, 2017

Business spotlight: O. Dans Public House by Michelle Libby

Fresh ingredients, historic atmosphere and friendly staff are the major ingredients at O. Dans Public House located at 1 Ossipee Trail East in Standish. The large three-story building has been remodeled and is open for business. 
Owners Dan Ellingwood, Jim Yates and Steve Burgess bought the building as a second location for O. Dans; the first is located in Sebago on the back side of Sebago Lake. With friends and family helping as well as Yates’ construction company, it took five months for the remodel. “We’re a little crazy. We thought two months,” said Ellingwood. They redid the kitchen, the bar on the second floor, which was made by Yates, and brought the floors back to life. The work brought to life the historic charm of the building. 

“This gave us the opportunity to be a part of a nice, small community,” said Ellingwood. 

The food is described as southern style with a French twist. Culinary trained, Ellingwood, the head chef, worked in southern kitchens for years as well as interned in kitchens in France, after growing up in New Hampshire. At O. Dans he goes back to his training to provide food that is unparalleled in the area. One of the unique starters is the egg rolls, created with Pineland Farms grass fed prime rib, gorgonzola cheese and fresh horseradish mayo. Ellingwood offers chicken and waffles and fried chicken with mashed potatoes like a southern grandma would make. 

“We shop every day. What we see at the market we use,” Ellingwood said. “We have to be better than what you can do at home.”  For those looking for the special of the day, come in early, Yates suggests, or the items might be gone. 

Everything from wings to corned beef, risotto to blackened haddock is made at the restaurant. His self-proclaimed best dish is the risotto, which he made every day for two years while in France. As a vegetarian entrĂ©e, it is served with crispy sprouts and shaved parmesan cheese. O. Dans has no microwaves, no freezers, and everything is made from scratch, except the ketchup. 

Ellingwood and Yates are childhood friends. “We’ve been running together since we were in diapers,” Ellingwood said. The first location they opened together has 35 seats and is described as homey. The new location is neighborhood friendly and has 120 seats. 

“We’re working on becoming a destination,” Ellingwood said. 

O. Dans has been open for six weeks and the reception has been outstanding, Ellingwood said.
“It was overwhelming at first. Even with a two hour wait, they keep coming back,” Yates said. “Getting them to come once is easy. Getting them to come back is hard.” People do return. 

Every five or six weeks O. Dans changes the menu to follow the harvest. By following the seasons, Ellingwood supports the hardworking farmers in the community as well as serves the patrons fresh, local food. Diners at O. Dans are never hurried and they can expect to see one of the owners in the building most of the time. “We’re not just being a business, but being a neighbor as well,” Ellingwood said. “Feeding people is very personal. It’s important. A lot of our memories center around food.”

At the bar, there are 10 revolving taps and on the specials board they have listed what’s coming up next for beer. “They try to finish a tap to get to the next kind,” said Yates. “We’re not a night club. Grandma and their granddaughters can come in together,” Yates said. 

“The highest compliment is when folks bring their kids in because they’re comfortable enough to bring their kids here. That’s humbling,” Ellingwood added. 

O. Dans serves dinner nightly after 4 p.m. and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. After Easter weekend, starting April 23, O. Dans will be open for Sunday brunch starting at 10 a.m. with a build-your-own bloody Mary and mimosa bar. There is live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Open mic music is the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. 

Reservations are encouraged. They are always hiring new staff to add to the 25 they have now.
For more information or to make a reservation, call: 648-4239 or visit them online on Facebook.

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