The Wyoming restaurant scene gained a new addition this week with the opening of CWC, The Restaurant, a bistro owned by our very own sister pair, Caitlin Steininger and Kelly Trush, and based on the local and seasonal cuisine that they pioneered on their eponymous radio show and web channel.
CWC added new flavor to Wyoming’s food options last summer when the sisters parked a food truck in front of their building at 1517 Springfield Pike and served a unique menu to a bustling crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. The food truck helped Steininger with market research as extensive renovations took place on the former doctors office space. “The food truck – we never had the same menu twice and that was all about seeing what our neighborhood likes to eat, and different price points and all of that good stuff,” Steininger said. “So when the restaurant opens we’re going to have a backbone menu that we only change seasonally. We’ll keep the favorites, of course, but then spice it up seasonally.”
The restaurant is definitely a local affair. The project began with inspiration from their friend and attorney Neal Patel, and the pair started the process of opening the restaurant with a financial advisor from Spring Valley Bank. Their bookkeeper is from Sheldon Reder. Their architect is local resident Charlie Jahnigen (of SHP Architects) and their designers are Abby Jahnigen and Katie Wehby. The general contractor is AJ Aurilio of Aurilio Design & Build.
All of the work has transformed the formerly empty space into a bright and welcoming environment that will be able to feed 53 patrons at a time. Guests will be greeted at the door by Trush and can enjoy a drink at the bar before taking a seat at one of the comfortable banquette tables.
Steininger Ready To Take Charge of Her Own Venture
Although Steininger has had the opportunity to cook in amazing kitchens around the region, she is excited to be in command of the open kitchen at CWC. Her goal has been to make CWC an extension of her dinner table and the layout will definitely serve that end.
Steininger and Trush really feel that the Wyoming community has rallied around their efforts and that informed their decision to look for space here and to feed their friends and neighbors. “We’re going to open at 4pm on Friday to feed the people that work here in Wyoming,” Steininger said. “(Especially) the teachers – we’re going to take care of them!”
“Most importantly the teachers!” Trush added. “We know who they’re hanging out with all day.” Both Trush’s and Steininger’s kids are in Wyoming schools; first at Vermont and now some of the older kids are at WMS.
The restaurant will truly be a family affair. Steininger had just met with the health department shortly before our interview and confirmed that their kids will be able to work at the restaurant. While the younger one may be limited to “table touches”, Steininger’s 10-year-old son Mac is really looking forward to operating the commercial dishwasher.
Formal Training, But Unconventional Start
If you haven’t already learned it from Trush’s blog called “Cooking With Caitlin”, Steininger got her start on the journey to being a chef when she attended culinary school in 2005 at Cordon Bleu in Chicago. After graduating in 2007, she didn’t follow the traditional route of diving into the cutthroat world of restaurant work, but instead started a family and a catering business. The blog blossomed into a business of its own, with cooking videos, recipes and culinary tales, and eventually led to a radio show and a partnership with Cincinnati.com.
As Trush told me: “…Because we did catering early on, people would say, ‘When are you going to open a restaurant?’ Because that’s the traditional food model. That’s what people understand. And we always pushed back, pushed back, until the moment that we decided to do it.”
“The best restaurants are when the owners are there,” Steininger added “…and so we knew going into this that we wanted to (do that too).”
As mentioned earlier, the menu at CWC will be underpinned by many of the favorites from the food truck, but is also expected to change regularly to reflect what is fresh and available locally. Lest you doubt Steininger’s willingness to go ‘hyper-local’, produce from the garden at Vermont Primary School was featured in the menu at least twice last summer, with lightly fried squash blossoms being the most memorable example.
“You kind of grow up as a chef when you have to do that – try different ingredients,” Steininger added. Ultimately, “We’re calling it comfort food, so we can do what we want.” They expect that they will continue to use fresh herbs and other ingredients from the Vermont garden as well as other local farms and providers.
For the post-theater crowd, CWC will also feature a late-night menu that will be available after 10pm.
If you loved the vibe of the food truck and picnic tables on summer nights, rest assured that al fresco dining will be returning later in the year with the addition of a beer garden at the rear of the restaurant in what Trush and Steininger are calling ‘Phase 2’ of their plans. Also in Phase 2 are some exciting exterior changes that the sisters are not quite ready to divulge, but that will definitely make CWC stand out as traffic comes into Wyoming from the north.
CWC, The Restaurant 1517 Springfield Pike 513-407-3947 Friday: 4pm to Midnight Saturday: 5pm to Midnight Sunday: 9am to 2pm