This week, Walpole Patch checks in with Maura McAuliffe, owner of The Raven's Nest.
The Raven's Nest is a full-service restaurant and Irish pub located in the heart of Walpole Center. It offers contemporary cuisine and upscale pub fare such as crispy calamari, vodka mussels, and sirloin steak. It serves up lunch and dinner seven days a week until 10 p.m. There are over 15 different draft beers to choose from, as well as signature cocktails, and an extensive wine list. During the winter months, the restaurant features a cozy fireplace. Guests can catch a game on one of the seven plasma TVs. Live music is featured weekly.
Be sure to check back each week for a Question and Answer session with another local business owner.
Walpole Patch: What is one thing people might not know about The Raven's Nest?
Maura McAuliffe: Well I guess one of the most recent interesting tidbits is that we just had Channel 7 in our place yesterday where they filmed a feature for their “The Dish” segment which will air the first week of November. We feel pretty honored to be featured. And I also love the fact The Raven’s Nest is mentioned in Robert Patterson’s last mystery suspense novel “Lullaby” - as a “fine looking restaurant.”
WP: How has the economy affected you in the past year?
MM: We have been fortunate to see actually an uptick in business as opposed to when we opened in 2010. When we opened, most people thought we were nuts, that it wouldn’t work – that opening an independent restaurant on a site where the past establishment was unsuccessful, all in the peak of a recession, was a huge risk. Three months prior to opening, I had held a position as general counsel for a wine company, which was going through bankruptcy and ultimately ceased operations. For weeks on end, I had informed employees that they were losing their jobs, something I never want to repeat. Opening the Nest just a few month later, I guess personally, was a way for me to feel like I was doing something, creating jobs, stimulating the economy. We were thrilled with the outpouring of support by the town. For the last two years, we have built a great regular customer base, who have been loyal and tremendous in supporting us. We have also kept our prices modest – giving people a great meal out that won’t break the bank. We are constantly pricing vendors to keep our costs low so we can pass that savings on. We have also offered budget friendly lunch specials over the last year – many items for less than what you would pay at a fast food place – and we’ve been successful really building up our lunch business that way.
What is your busiest time of day and day of the week?
I would say weekends…Friday and Saturday nights are jamming, plus having live music both those nights tends to draw folks in.
What is your most popular item from the menu?
Funny, because I just ran a report on this the other day and was surprised to see it was our pumpkin ale! Joking aside, we sell a ton of steak tips, but our pistachio chicken and apple goat cheese salmon (which is what “The Dish” will feature) are climbing. Our executive chef, Joe Gratton, puts out at least three-four specials daily – those are immensely popular. You will never be bored as long as Joe is creating!
What do you feel is a benefit about being a small business in Walpole?
I think where we are situated, across from the common, gives that small town/neighborhood feel – something that could never be replicated in a chain restaurant. Mark and I are constantly on-site, meeting and greeting customers, making connections...I’m not sure that would happen in a larger corporate environment. Walpole has been so warm and welcoming to us. We love this community and look forward to many more years of business.
More from Maura:
Mark and I opened The Mad Raven in Waltham back in 2000. We had always thought of doing a second place if the right location came up, but never aggressively pursued it. When we stumbled across Walpole Center, we fell in love with it and despite the fact we had our third child on the way, we went for it! That’s where the “Nest” part came from…we joked we were building “a nest” – and just 4 weeks after welcoming a baby girl, the Raven’s Nest opened its doors to the public! While there are many similarities between The Mad Raven and The Raven’s Nest, The Raven’s Nest has evolved into its own character – much like our children!