Before buying Cheers in the Heights, Chris Tanner earned a degree in aviation and subsequently qualified to fly multi-engine planes. Flying, however, isn't cheap, so Tanner and his wife Samantha started catering local events, and that eventually led the two to consider bidding on a little neighborhood restaurant tucked away on North Van Buren Street.
"We thought it had a lot of potential," Samantha says. They became the official owners of Cheers in the Heights—which before was essentially a burger and beer joint—on New Year's Eve almost 10 years ago. It was a Friday night, Chris remembers, and the couple worked like crazy over the weekend improving the place and revamping the menu for their Monday grand opening.
"We changed the menu to include choice steaks and seafood like scallops and shrimp ... grill items," he says. "Even now, we don't have a huge menu."Samantha describes the menu "as very focused."
With the reopening, they also broadened the selection of wines, and in the meantime, they continued to expand their catering business.
"We have awesome employees (some stayed on board after the management change)," she says about the 30 full- and part-time cooks, wait staff and greeters they have on staff. While Samantha describes herself as dishwasher, money-manager, fry cook, and table-setter when needed, she says Chris is the real genius behind the menu.
"He's the one who creates new dishes," she says. In fact, Sunday is her favorite night of the week because that's when Chris gets creative in the kitchen at home. "He's a very talented chef."
Not only do they work in the Heights, but they live close enough for Samantha to ride a golf cart to work in the summer.
"It's a great place to raise kids," she says. These days, it's not unusual to find their daughter Charley getting a little help with her homework from the waitresses, and before leaving for college, their son Blaine stayed busy washing dishes, bussing tables and seating customers.
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