Oak House restaurant opens in Dunnavant Square
Published 9:28 am Friday, January 14, 2022
By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer
NORTH SHELBY – A new upscale-casual restaurant in Dunnavant Valley has received a warm welcome from the community during its soft opening this week.
Since opening the doors of Oak House on Tuesday, Jan. 11, Travis Grappo and his wife, Sarah, have been excited to see their first restaurant filled with patrons.
“We did really well,” Travis said. “Day one totally exceeded expectations. Having 100 guests on the first night was just remarkable.”
A Mt Laurel resident, Travis has opened more than 50 restaurants in his lengthy career in the industry, but founding a restaurant of his own was a goal that remained on his list.
When one of his friends told him a space was available next to OHenry’s Coffees in the new Dunnavant Square development last year, Travis saw an opportunity.
“He put me in touch with the landlord, who is now my business partner,” Travis said. “We immediately hit it off. I told him I wanted to do an upscale-casual restaurant, dinner only, with contemporary American fare. That’s how it all started.”
After his meeting with Bill Thornton during the summer, Travis started thinking about who he wanted to bring on board as his “culinary expert.”
The first name that came to mind was Oliver Robinson, who served as chef at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar when Travis was the restaurant’s part-owner.
Robinson accepted the offer, becoming another partner in the business.
Travis’s wife, Sarah, took the lead on designing the interior of the nearly 2,300-square-foot restaurant.
She chose the Sherwin-Williams Web Gray paint color for the walls and modern pendant lights to create a clean, contemporary look.
The focal point of the space is the bar, which represents a fourth of the restaurant’s seating.
A chef’s table seats up to eight people, and a community table accommodates as many as 10.
Of all the decisions they had to make before opening, Travis said choosing a name for the restaurant was the hardest.
They took cues from the surrounding area, particularly Oak Mountain State Park and Double Oak Mountain, where they spend much of their free time running the trails.
“We knew it had to be something with ‘oak’ in it to represent the area,” Travis said. “We went back and forth with friends and family focus groups.”
During Travis’s first meeting with the restaurant’s marketing team at Lot 22 Media, the owner’s son, Gordie Stewart, mentioned “Oak House” as they were discussing ideas.
Travis initially dismissed it, but later, local resident and close friend David Brush’s description of the name solidified it as the perfect choice: “Oak House resonates strength, permanence, time, collector of people and wisdom. It speaks directly to our valley.”
“That put me over the edge,” Travis said. “This is such a tight-knit community. I want this to be the neighborhood’s restaurant.”
Even though their target opening date was delayed about a month, Travis and Sarah took time before Christmas to hold several private parties at Oak House for family and friends, giving their team a chance to do a trial run at the restaurant before the real opening in January.
“Everybody raved about Chef Oliver’s food,” Sarah said.
The menu features a core lineup of steak, seafood and pasta dishes, along with carefully crafted starters, salads and desserts.
The full menu can be viewed at Oakhouseeats.com/eat.
Oak House also boasts a variety of specialty cocktails and wines.
The restaurant utilizes an online system called Tock for reservations, but walk-in patrons will also be accepted.
Oak House is currently taking reservations for its Valentine’s Day dinner for couples featuring the Oak House Salad, Chef Oliver’s lobster bisque, a surf-and-turf entrée, dessert and two glasses of champagne.
Visit Oakhouseeats.com and follow @oakhousebham on Facebook and Instagram.
Oak House will be open for dinner only on Tuesday-Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.