Oakhart Social: Welcome to Midtown

Posted on December 8, 2014 by


“[It all started] sitting in a tide pool [with an octapus] in Costa Rica drinking too much,” explained Benjamin Clore.

Clore and Tristain Wraight, the childhood friends and collaborators behind Midtown’s newest eatery, Oakhart Social, share a love of food and the entrepreneurial drive to open a restaurant. Over the past five years, Clore and Wraight made moves in the restaurant indusry to prepare the way for this dream project.

And a dream it was when in the first few days with open doors, an overflowing Oakhart Social had to turn people away.

“If you’re not scared, then you’re doing something wrong,” added Wraight.

Photo by Linnea White

Benjamin Clore and Head Chef Tristan Wraight | Photo by Linnea White

Clore, former local filmmaker and manager at Maya, a neighboring restaurant on West Main Street, and Wraight, former touring musician, have climbed the restaurant industry ladder, searching for opportunity and the chance to work for themselves.

So when Clore caught wind of Moto Pho‘s closing in Spring 2014, he jumped at the opportunity to claim a spot in the Midtown neighborhood.

Childhood friends from Champagne, Illinois, Clore and Wraight drew from their travel and life experiences to collaborate on the menu and concept of Oakhart Social, from shared ties to England to their days working on a boat in Greece. The influences range from Mediterranean to Spanish to North African to British specialities, like Bubble and Squeak.

“The heart of our restaurant is our wood fired oven which we burn Oak in,” explained Clore of the origin of the name and concept. “Tristan has duel citizenship and I have also lived in England, hence the Old English spelling.”

Courtesy of Oakhart Social

Courtesy of Oakhart Social

The “wood fired seasonal Atlantic coast food for sharing” showcases Clore’s self-proclaimed pizza addiction as well as the culinary chops of Head Chef Wraight and Sous Chef Jacob Nesmith, both new-to-Cville transplants by-way-of Chicago.

“[The menu] will change several times a year,” explained Clore. “Inspiration is whatever we want. We have a saying between Tristan, Jake, Albee, and I – ‘We make the rules’ (and we hope you like what we make).”

The motto also applies to the work of bar manager Albee Pedone, “a genius with classic cocktails.” Pedone’s deep knowledge of beer and spirits compliments Oakhart’s eclectic menu.

“[For us] it’s about having fun and making good food,” added Wraight. “If you’re not doing what you love, then why do it?”

The minimalist interior includes renovations such as a newly opened wall between the dining and bar areas, reclaimed 150 year old Douglas Fir wood flooring for the bar and table tops, and an addition on the back of the building to house a walk-in, wood storage, and the wood fire oven, of course.

The dining room seats 42, the bar seats 10, and the patio will seat 32, when the weather allows for it. Keep an eye out for new additions to the space in 2015, including a rooftop bar and dining area.

Photo by Linnea White

Photo by Linnea White

This new addition to the West Main Street neighborhood is just another delicious reason to make Midtown, the bridge between the University and downtown, a must-visit area of Cville.

“Simply put, it’s Main Street in one of the best places in American to live,” added Clore. “Let’s make it great!”

Come celebrate with drinks and a limited edition burger! December 12th, 511 W Main St!

Come celebrate with drinks and a limited edition burger! December 12th, 511 W Main St!

Clore, Wraight, and Nesmith all live in the Midtown area and take pride in the neighborhood and its many gems. Clore thanked the tireless Midtown advocates – Laura Galgano of Blue Moon Diner and Peter Castiglione of Maya – for their work to see Midtown shine over the years.

So grab a few friends and head over to Oakhart for a night of shared food and good times on Cville’s Main Street.

Posted in: food, New to Cville