“New year, new you” is the saying du jour over at Wild Hare and Hollow Cow (née Lightning Tavern). That’s because the owners spruced both places up and brought in a new chef and management team to inject some life into both spots. Matt Schweitzer, who owned Marrow Kitchen & Bar and Hilltop Kitchen in Seattle, is now managing both locations and brought down chef Michaela Ketchum, bar manager Wendell Bagby, and director of operations Alex Henderson with him to help.
Over in Cow Hollow, Lightning Tavern has been rebranded as Hollow Cow. Their approach is straightforward, easy food and drinks in a welcoming, neighborhood setting. “We wanted to make it a place you can hang out and feel comfortable and relax and enjoy some food and drink while also have a good time,” Schweitzer told Eater SF. “We’re trying to flip the script and say usually you’re trying to go to a restaurant and look to drink, but we want people to come to a bar and look to eat,” a strategy he hopes will earn them more frequent repeat customers.
To that end, Ketchum, who has a fine dining background, created a menu of “simple, craveable, desirable” food, “cooked in a way that’s a couple notches better than what you would expect or might have had before, but with a couple of our spins,” Schweitzer said, such as a mushroom banh mi and mac and cheese with housemade pasta. Drinks are in the same vein, with Bagby going for craft cocktails that aren’t overly complicated. You can see the full menu below.
Over at Wild Hare, things feel much the same (though there is an updated menu, below), but with Schweitzer and team’s philosophy applied. The new menus are also below, and Schweitzer stressed that much of the change at both places also stems from Henderson’s approach to hospitality. “The crux of our whole operation is capitalizing on the difference between service and hospitality, making people feel warm, welcome, invited, and delivering people an experience that’s maybe slightly elevated from what they’re used to having outside of a fine dining restaurant.
As for why Schweitzer and his team wanted in on these projects, he explained, “My whole team and I just wanted a chance to get into a bigger market. Honestly, we were hitting home runs back home, but that’s like a single down here in San Francisco.”