In case you didn’t notice, the venerable Riverside Grill is now under a new name and new ownership. On Nov. 16, the Old Town favorite officially reopened as The Tipsy Trout with new owners Andy Hopp and Claire Clarke taking the venue over from Martin Oswald, who owned the grill from 2005 until this August of this year.
“Martin used to be a neighbor of ours,” Hopp said. “Claire — my wife and partner in this whole adventure — and I have always loved this location. We moved downvalley about eight years ago. We kind of talked to Martin about it a couple of times over the last several years and when the opportunity rose, we decided to snatch it.”
Both Hopp and Clarke have over two decades worth of experience working with restaurants in the Valley. Clarke started the Flying Dog Brew Pub and worked with the Grey Lady, while Hopp managed Kenichi for 10 years and Smoke, until recently, for six. Before that, he worked as a software developer.
“I worked in software development for about four years, but I found that I missed the social part of the restaurant. I really enjoy the people, and day-to-day challenges that the restaurant brings […] It comes down to how food is something that actually brings us together. It gets you off of your cell phone and away from your TV and off your computer. It’s something that’s supposed to bring people together and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s in my blood and I love it.”
The couple wants to carry on the tradition of the notable downtown location, while still having the freedom to express themselves and make the restaurant their own. Hence the name change, new logo, and new menu.
“There have been a lot of incarnations of the Riverside Grill,” Hopp said. “We felt it would be nice to switch it up a little bit and throw a curveball. We gave a little bit of a nod to the Rainbow Grill in the logo and you’ll notice the tagline, underneath The Tipsy Trout, reads
“Riverside Fine Dining” to give a nod to Riverside. The food has changed significantly from times past, but as far as the tradition locals know from Martin, we still want this to be a hub for the community of Old Town Basalt.”
It’s fair to note there are an increasing number of restaurants coming to the Mid-Valley, and when asked about any concerns he has as a first-time restaurant owner, Hopp was honest.
“Restaurants in general can be tough. It’s a business of pennies,” he said. “And there’s the seasonality and obviously the fact that it all rests on our shoulders. It’s important to have cleanliness, quality and consistency. We have the cleanliness. We have the quality. Now it’s a matter of creating that consistency as far as service and food go.”
Locals have something more than just a new name and logo to look forward to with Hopp and Clarke as the new owners.
“There’s a new bar menu, available all day every day with everything $10 and under. As
far as food and what not, you’ll just have to come in and check it out. We have new food, a new chef and new blood.”
Curious about how the Tipsy Trout might add to the available entertainment in the Mid- Valley, the Weekly Journal asked if any plans were in the works to bring music to the Tipsy Trout.
“We can’t say plans quite yet, but we definitely intend to bring some music in. In what capacity we’re not quite sure,” Hopp said. “I’d really like to re-incorporate some kind of open mic night down here. The nice thing about this location aside from being right next to the river is the size of the space. It’s really inviting and something we have that a lot of spaces in the community don’t. It’s not our top concern for now and we’re not looking to compete with anyone in the Valley for music, but it’s something potentially in the works. I like to see the Valley growing in a nice healthy way in the right direction. I think there’s potential for everybody.”
Mainly, Hopp wants locals to know the old Riverside Grill is under a new name, new ownership, and right on the Frying Pan River in downtown Basalt.
“It’s amazing for how long the grill has been around that people still don’t know where it is,” Hopp admitted. “We’re more or less letting the community know there are new owners, that we are owner-operated, and we’ve already poured a lot of our heart and soul into this place — and will continue to do so. Basically, we want you to know we have a new menu. We want you to come try it. And that we’re really excited for people to come check the Tipsy Trout out.”