Saturday, June 25, 2022

Aviator chef plans her own restaurant

By Mark Frost , Chronicle Editor

Denver Grover, the chef of the suddenly closed Aviator Restaurant at Warren County Airport, intends to opens a restaurant of her own as soon as this spring.

Denver Grover

“I’ve had a lot of interest. I’ve had so many people within the community call me, so many different restaurants…tons of job offers,” she told The Chronicle.

She says she decided, “The next step is my own thing.”

She said she has a deal to buy a restaurant that is available for sale. She would not disclose specifics. Asked when she aims to open, she said, “I hope this April.”

Of her three-year run at Rich Schermerhorn’s Aviator Restaurant, Ms. Grover said, “It’s been good. I’ve got a good core of people. I’ve been able to be creative and do what I want. The last six months have been a little more difficult.”

She said, “Winter, things are more quiet,” and that Mr. Schermerhorn told her “we need to get more people in the off-season,” particularly when there’s clientele that goes to Florida.

“My idea was try to get a younger demographic in there,” said Ms. Grover, but that it was apparent Mr. Schermerhorn wanted to take a very different direction.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, amid a snowstorm, she says “he sent me a text and Loretta [the front of house manager]. ‘Close the restaurant because of the weather.’”

“I thought, that’s odd,” says Ms. Grover. “We actually had a pretty good reservation docket for that night.” She said people needed to be called to notify them of The Aviator’s being closed for the night.

Ms. Grover said a weather cancellation had happened once before, but the decision came much closer to opening.

The next day, Sunday, when The Aviator is closed, Ms. Grover said Mr. Schermerhorn phoned from Florida and told her that The Aviator would be closed until spring “effective immediately” and “they’re going in a different direction.”

“I don’t blame him for making a business decision,” says Ms. Grover.

“It’s really for how it was gone about and the impact on the people who worked there. It was very abrupt for all of us.”

She said she felt bad for her staff. “Having three months off is not something that many of them can afford to do….I don’t think anybody [on the staff] will be returning to the Aviator.”

Asked if Mr. Schermerhorn thanked her, Ms. Grover said, “He told me that I am talented and he knows that people do come there for the food.”

Of her own feelings, Ms. Grover said, “At first my spirits were pretty low. It’s kind of like a shock.” Then she says she realized “I need to figure out what’s next.”

“Then I had this outpouring, even from people I didn’t know. I got emails, I didn’t even know how they got my email address.” She said people told her “they’ll follow me where I go.

“I’m looking at this as an opportunity, I guess…With all fingers crossed,” she said. “I think it’s going to work.”

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