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Meet Rusty Phillips

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rusty Phillips. 

Hi Rusty, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I am a former artist turned professional cook. Largely self-taught, my food journey was born from a passion for creating, and a life-long love of food instilled by the family table. The most recent part of this journey included my building a food truck and joining the small group of pioneers in the burgeoning Cleveland food truck scene in 2011. After a few years, I was itching to get back into a restaurant and parlayed my successful food truck into what is now The Pompadour small plates restaurant. In May 2015, we opened the doors of Pompadour to the public. At that time, there was no kitchen to speak of, just a dream of opening a small restaurant offering an intimate and interesting dining experience in the little obscure harbor town that we had become proud to call our home. Over that first year, we etched in a tiny restaurant kitchen into the back room that would eventually propel Pompadour forward as the food-focused small plates restaurant we envisioned. Seven years later, we continually work to stay true to our vision while growing and pushing to get better. We also recently began working on additional projects within historic downtown Fairport Harbor to build on the forward-thinking momentum that is helping our lakeside community begin to blossom.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
From a restaurant standpoint, the biggest challenge has been our location. Namely, convincing people that creative, high-caliber food could be done outside the confines of a large, metropolitan area. We prepared ourselves for this challenge by opting for a small footprint and hedging our bets with an opening menu that included some larger dishes alongside small plates to “test the waters” of the concept we intended. A small plates restaurant was a largely untested concept in Cleveland, let alone in Fairport Harbor, at that time. We were pleasantly surprised at the positive response to small plates and moved forward bolstered to ultimately eliminate anything on the menu that didn’t conform to the direction we wanted to go. Our belief then and now is, in order to succeed, we have to pursue excellence to provide an experience worth seeking out, regardless of our location. 

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Through the challenges of opening The Pompadour, and then again during COVID, I have learned to trust my instincts and stay true to my vision through tough times and good. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Josh Dobay Productions
The Pompadour

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