Rue Saint-Marc: French Flavors in San Marco
After years of aspiring to run their own restaurant, Executive Chef Scott Alters and Beverage Director Gabrielle Saul have brought their vision to life at Rue Saint-Marc in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville. Joining together with Chefs Matthew and David Medure, Rue is the latest addition to the M Hospitality Restaurant and Catering Group. While the restaurant may be a new venture for this couple, they are not novices in the hospitality and food service arena. Scott has worked in dining establishments around the country; his local experience includes Restaurant Orsay, the former Sundog Diner in Neptune Beach and most recently, Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra. Gabby's work has also taken her to California and back; she too was at Medure's, heading up the cocktail program, before branching off to open Rue. Spend a little time with this dynamic duo, and their passion and excitement for this undertaking is evident.
Chef Alters on the concept for Rue Saint-Marc and his background in restaurants.
Why the French influence?
The French influence is predominately in regards to the sourcing of great ingredients and the application of good technique to bring out their best qualities.
How will you be able to adapt the menu to ingredient seasonality and what's available from local sourcing?
Menu adaptability is essential to working with smaller local farms. To accomplish it, a chef has to have a good depth of product knowledge and technique. After that, you just have to work really hard.
When did you know you wanted to have your own restaurant?
I started working in a kitchen at a very young age, and by 15, I knew this is what I wanted to spend my life doing. I absolutely love it!
After several years working the front of the house, what was the biggest challenge you have faced cooking again?
Spending time serving guests only helped me grow as a chef. Without understanding the human connection between the restaurant and the guest, a chef is really just cooking for him/herself.
Gabby Saul on defining a bar program and the challenges of being boss vs. co-worker.
How has your bar program differed in your own establishment, as opposed to creating a program for someone else's restaurant?
I can focus on using the spirits that might get overlooked at other bars. I use brands based on how they help my cocktails be perfectly balanced, not just based on price or popularity. I try to focus on local beers since I only have eight taps. When I can stay local, I focus on the craft style of the product and brewery. With wine I can focus on small production and change my By-the-glass options constantly. I have a lot of fun varietals that people have never had before like "Furmint."
What lessons have you learned about managing the front of the house staff?
It's very hard to walk the line of Boss lady vs. co-worker/friend. I try to create a good balance between the two here at Rue.
How has it been running a restaurant with your fiance?
It's wonderful! We are always on the same page, because we can talk about things all the time. It's easier for us to focus on our vision for Rue and what we want it to become.
What advice would you give other bartenders who may be interested in having their own establishment?
Remember that you have to let other people make your cocktails and talk about your bar program. Make sure they see everything from your point of view. As much as you want to do everything yourself, you can't. Let people help you!
What other extra-curricular activities do you still have time for (or have the energy for)?
Not much lately. We try to go out to dinner on Sundays (our day off), watch a movie, take a walk with the dog. We are very focused on Rue even on our day off right now. We look forward to having more free time in the future. But for now, it's all about RUE!
Ready to sample a taste of France in Jacksonville? Visit Rue Saint-Marc at 2103 San Marco Blvd or check out their website.