Tapas Restaurant in Downtown Redding
By Michelle Adams
One step inside Tapas and it’s easy to see why the restaurant won Viva Downtown’s design award last year: the rich hues and warm tones evoke a sense of coziness and comfort, as if you are walking into your own home. The old church pews were refurbished and reupholstered by the owners, Brad Tillson and Christine Silver, themselves.
But if you think the ambience is impressive, wait until you try the food. Christine, who has always been a fan of healthy food and healthful ingredients, created the recipes for every single item on the menu. Brad took it a step further, incorporating his love of fine wine to ensure every wine fit the flavor profile they desired, in order to make the food and wine experience really special. So how did this unique restaurant come about? Ask this couple of five years and they will tell you about how the stars aligned, how everything fell into place.
Brad had been interested in buying the Pio Loco restaurant when he saw in the newspaper that the space was up for sale. After he told Silver, she basically gave him a “to-do” list a mile long, in the hopes of discouraging what she knew would be a hard road to plow. When he finished all of the tasks in one morning, she realized he was serious so she looked into it herself—she was working in the restaurant business and knew the ins and outs. When the Oregon Street Tea Company closed, Brad and Christine knew that was the location for them, especially after she saw the large kitchen. “I drove by and I thought, ‘This is it! Yeah, we can do this,’” says Christine. Once the decision was made, the Tea Company closed that September (2008) and Tapas opened in November of that year.
Brad and Christine based the idea for Tapas on one of their favorite restaurants. Christine began researching the Spanish-style dishes (the word tapas means snack or appetizer) and realized it fit well with her philosophy of putting food together to bring out the flavors, not disguising food with heavy sauces. Christine said she knew she could create the menu because that is the food she likes to eat—Greek and Mediterranean flavors. “Because we make all the food from scratch, people know exactly what they are getting,” says Christine. Tapas offers several vegan and vegetarian dishes and serves a full lunch and dinner, as well as tapas all day. It is open for breakfast Saturday and there is a Sunday brunch. And don’t forget the gorgeous bar and fabulous cocktails. Each juice is hand squeezed, each mixer made from scratch. (And it just might be the best mojito I’ve ever had – no doubt Christine’s recipe.)
“We’re inspired by what people like,” says Brad. “We want the food to really stand on its own, and we wanted to have a place where we would want to spend a lot of time because we like to have fun with everything we do.”
Adds Christine, “We feel extremely fortunate, especially in these economic times, that we have such a growing clientele. So do I think we’re doing well? Yes.” Well enough, even, to open a second restaurant.
Christine had stayed in contact with the Downtown Eatery people and was interested in taking over the space. “Owning one restaurant buys you a job,” she says. “But owning multiple places is the way to go.” So with their silent partner, Bob Gallegos, owner of the Millhouse Deli, they decided to reopen Maxwell’s, a popular downtown restaurant that closed in the ‘90s. “The more we thought about it, the more the name fit,” says Christine. “Why throw away the past? Revive it. Bring a little of the past to downtown.” So Maxwell’s Downtown is this dynamic duo’s most recent venture. They aren’t looking to duplicate Maxwell’s, but rather, identify another niche to fill: a brew pub downtown. As Christine so aptly states, “All the more downtown.” Brad feels they’re on good terms with other restaurateurs in town, and that they can all do what they do differently, and do it well. “There’s room for everybody.” These two seem almost too good to be true when talking about their love of the business (and each other!), but they aren’t. “I appreciate Brad,” says Christine. “He’s a good partner. We’re a good team.” The bottom line, according to Brad? “It feels good at the end of the day.” •
1257 Oregon St. Redding (530) 247-7299 www.tapasdowntown.com