Owning a restaurant is never easy. Owning a restaurant during Covid was even harder.
Those who managed to survive the pandemic are the troupers — the people with the flexibility to adapt to change. Gail and Kevin Flanigan are among them.
As the owners of The Unicorn for 37 years, they understand the restaurant business. They also know their neighbors in Grafton. So, when Covid emerged they recognized the impact it was having on the community and their staff. They knew the time had come to take break, so they temporarily closed The Unicorn.
“We knew the restaurant needed a refresh and gave considerable thought to what we could do to bring this restaurant into this century,” Gail explains. “We wanted something that was appropriate, less format, less fine-dining. We wanted something that was relaxing and a place where people could socialize. And we wanted people in our area to feel like they had a go-to place that was close to home.”
In October 2023, they opened Gehring’s Tavern — a “new chapter” in their restaurant’s life.
The entire restaurant received a refresh from paint to new furnishings. The former bar area was transformed, becoming a small dining room with ceilings sufficiently elevated to accommodate high-top tables and seating for up to 30 people. The larger dining room now also serves as a social room with an expansive, 16-person-seat bar. Restrooms received an upgrade.
The new configuration set the tone for Gehring’s Tavern providing flexible seating. Now tables may be moved to accommodate smaller or larger groups of guests.
In addition to cosmetic changes, major changes were made to the menu. Following post-Covid industry trends, the Flanigans opted for a menu featuring “grab-and-go” and in-restaurant dining, thereby catering to a broader cross section of clientele.
Eclectic appetizers range from Buffalo wings and mussels to an unconventional Scotch Egg. French Onion soup and an array of salads with optional proteins cater to those seeking a lighter fare.
Smash burgers — a hot nationwide trend — come in a host of different options. While the Doubly, a traditional double burger with toppings, may be the most conventional, there’s also The Smash Breakfast, a beef/sausage blend with American cheese, bacon an over-easy egg and hot honey, as well as so many more.
Glizzies, or hot dogs, have unusual choices ranging from The Gehring with Applewood smoked bacon, onion, relish, cheddar cheese and bacon ketchup to The Wild Card with goat cheese, caramelized onion, bacon, arugula and balsamic redux.
For those seeking heartier fare, entrees include a dry-aged ribeye, salmon with curried vegetables, red pepper ravioli, pan-seared scallops and more.
Gehring’s Tavern is open from 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Hours may be extended over time.
Planning to dine at Gehring’s Tavern? Owner Gail Flanigan found it difficult to choose one “Try It” item.
The Doubly, a two-patty smash burger with American cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion and the sweet/tangy house sauce is a great go-to choice. While it’s served with chips, a la carte sides include tater tots, cole slaw or mac & cheese.
The Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese has garnered rave reviews. This hearty dish of cavatappi has a three-cheese sauce and is topped with seasoned pulled pork.