Now that Anchovies & Olives is open, comparisons between owner Ethan Stowell and Tom Douglas can be heard on an hourly basis, if you’re listening in the right places.

"Empire-builders," grouse the snobs. Uber-foodies who believe that having five restaurants has compromised Douglas’ quality-control, and wonder what four will do to Stowell’s.

Now that I’ve partaken at A & O, here’s a different comparison I’d like to offer. Say what you will about quality-control—both empire-builders know a thing or two about how to staff up a restaurant.

Among the familiar faces I spied servicing the place a few nights ago was one, Amos, whose baby face (sorry Amos, but surely you’ve noticed) and heartfelt manner communicated a sincerity one doesn’t typically get in a restaurant this dizzyingly fashionable.

He truly wanted us to enjoy ourselves. Given that we were a certifiably pain-in-the-ass table—ragged arrival times, uninterruptable conversations, and man, did we linger loooong over the cheese tray—Amos never flagged in his quietly cheerful good spirits and genuine manner.

Bravo Amos. Bravo Ethan. And bravo Tom Douglas—the empire-builder who single-handedly turned service around in this town.

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