by: CORY MIMMS - J.D. Clarizio and Kyle Griffith outside Farmstead Restaurant and Pub.Farmstead Restaurant and Pub will celebrate 12 years in business on Nov. 8 with a party and a few changes, the biggest of which is a new head chef.

Kyle Griffith, 35, joined the Farmstead team last month. Griffith brings an eclectic mix of flavors and experience to the restaurant. He spent three years as sous-chef at Waverley Country Club, five years in the kitchen at the Multnomah Athletic Club, and lots of time in other restaurants between now and 2001, when he graduated from the Western Culinary Institute.

He prefers working close with the owner of the restaurant, he said, which is good because J.D. Clarizio likes to work closely with his staff.

“When you go hunting for a chef,” Clarizio said, “it can be difficult to find a well-rounded skill set and a personality that fits.”

Clarizio said he found both in Griffith.

Clarizio and Griffith are “refreshing” the menu. Not many items will get cut, Clarizio said, but the menu will be reformatted and Griffith will bring some new flavors to the plates.

“Redoing a menu is a big deal,” Clarizio said. He’s drawing on his full staff for input, along with customer feedback.

Griffith said he often begins with a traditional dish, and then adds his own “rustic” flare to it. He also wants to use local products in the dishes, so that when people eat at Farmstead, they know someone who helped produce the ingredients.

“We’re making improvements,” Griffith said, “not changes.” With winter just around the corner, he’s sticking with many of the favorite comfort foods such as the prime rib, smoked outside with cherry wood. He’s also aiming to hit on some of the seasonal favorites, like roasted root vegetables, which bring up a lot of fond childhood memories for Griffith.

Over the years, Clarizio has learned a lot of lessons about running a business. “I could write a book,” he said. Overall, though, his philosophy is to work closely with his staff, and make people feel welcome, he said, adding that Farmstead has built a solid reputation and continued to grow over the years. “Twelve years in the restaurant business is a rarity.”

The anniversary party will be held on Friday, Oct. 8. They’ll have live music by guitar duo Tim and Jim from 7-10 p.m., wine tasting from 6-8 p.m. dinner and drink specials from 5-10 p.m., and prizes at every table.

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