The chicken pot pie seen here cooked by Andrew Karsh, one of the chef’s for The Lincoln, sold out quickly. Photo via Facebook.
Written by Edward Smith
Like so many other restaurants forced to be creative in an ever-changing environment, the team at The Lincoln Pub & Grub in Fresno’s Tower District has found a way to operate both as a bar and an eatery.
“There have been so many changes with the guidelines, we probably changed our business model and our menu two or three times already,” said co-owner David Rasavong.
He and two others opened The Lincoln in spring 2019, centered on food and drinks priced at $5 — the precise bill on which the eponymous president was featured.
Before the pandemic, their menu was created to complement their drinks and vice versa. You could order tempura green beans, egg rolls or fried calamari for $5 a serving.
That all had to change once restaurants were shut down.
When there was no dining in allowed, they switched from their bar bites menu to family meals — more suited for take out.
The menu update brought dishes such as chicken picatta, lasagna and fettuccini alfredo available to customers. They would announce on Facebook if they sold out of dishes and what changes were being made as substitutes.
“At the end of the day, customers are creatures of habit. Always changing things up can throw them off a bit,” said Rasavong.
But when California reopened, they changed back to their original menu, said Rasavong. Dine-in rules didn’t last long and they found themselves back to where they were at the start of the pandemic.
The constant changes kept the owners on their heels. They decided that because of all the uncertainty, they needed to strategize for the future. They announced early July via Facebook that they would close The Lincoln.
“We didn’t want to have to make changes in our business model as well as our menu every couple weeks,” Rasavong said. “We said to ourselves, ‘let’s take a breather as a team and see where it all falls.’”
That break from the day-to-day allowed them to see that patio dining was going to be the only way to make it. They built a new patio cover and added umbrellas and misters to make it more comfortable. They extended out the patio to accommodate more diners. By mid-August, they were ready to open.
They noticed that people like staying there a bit longer. They’ve adapted their menus to a summer menu, back to serving food to make people feel comfortable.
“We have a lot of loyal customers, we’re like everyone else, we’re not where we once were, but that’s ok, Rasavong said. “We think we’ll get back once it’s safe to reopen.”