Story By Pat Payton, The St. Marys Independent Newspaper
‘Social Thirty-One.’ It’s the name of the restaurant St. Marys Golf and Country Club is currently promoting and expanding.
“It started out as a take-out restaurant and we had a lot of success with it,” says Matt Staffen, General Manager and Director of Golf at the Club. “Now, we’re transitioning it into an actual restaurant. It will be a dine-in restaurant as well. Obviously, with Covid-19, things are a little different right now.
“Our goal was to redevelop our restaurant and turn it into an actual restaurant. We want to give it its own branding and its own identity.”
Plans to expand patio
When government restrictions are eased, Social Thirty-One will offer patrons both indoor and outdoor seating. Plans are to expand the outdoor patio as well, starting this summer. “It’s all pretty new,” Staffen says.
Doing the construction work will be Raezor’s Edge General Contractor from St. Marys. “We want to have St. Marys and area’s best patio,” Staffen says. “There’s going to be a big addition to it, more than doubling the size of our outdoor patio space.”
“Now we’re doing out-door seating, and reservations can be made on our patio,” Staffen says. “Obviously, we’re practising social distancing, but you can also have your ‘social bubble’ where you can have up to 10 people, family or friends, in your bubble. It’s actually the government's term.
“Once the government allows us to open the indoor part of our restaurant, people can join us inside as well.”
The GM and Director of Golf says the restaurant has been named ‘Social Thirty-One’ for two main reasons. “One, we want it to be very social, a place where people in our community can hang out together and enjoy good food and beverages,” he says. “Two, the Thirty-One is actually an ode to our heritage, from 1931 when the golf course originally opened.”
He noted that cocktails are also going to be added to their menu. “We’re going to have a specific drink menu, music playing inside and outside, and live sports on TV as well.”
Focus on local products
Staffen says the restaurant’s main focus is promoting locally-grown food.
“We want to change the restaurant scene in St. Marys, and really focus on local eats,” he explains. “Our branding is local craft eats. It’s hand-made, using local products, that’s a big thing that goes into our ingredients. For instance, we’re using asparagus from Megens Family Farm.
“That’s a big focus of what we’re doing.”
The expanded patio clubhouse patio is a huge part of the redevelopment, Staffen says.
“We want to make it feel like an indoor-outdoor space, where people can come out from the community. We want to invite the public to come out and really treat this as a restaurant and enjoy some of the area’s best food from executive chef Nathan Brown and his team of culinary chefs.”
Craft burgers and handheld sandwiches are two of the biggest favourites on the menu right now, chef Brown says. All the burgers are hand-made. There are also chicken wings, a variety of salads and a kid’s menu.
“We want to be about constant change and innovation, using local products as well as local businesses,” Brown says. “From Dan and Amie at Troyer’s Spices, I use a lot of spices and Cajun mix and barbecue rub that I ask for.”
The chef also gets lettuce, cucumbers and radishes from Laurie and Corey Ahrens at Edible Acres in Thorndale, and his ground beef from Yungblut Meats near Tavistock.
“I’m constantly on the phone with the farmers, every day,” he says. “We have some of the best farmers in Ontario in this region, and they need to be used more.”