Christian Hayes, a seventh generation Mainer and Food Network Chopped Champion, balanced the parallels between professional musician and full-time cook for close to 2 decades before his wife and business partner, Christine, launched Dandelion Catering Co. in 2008. Together, they bootstrapped a company that sat firmly on the steadfast denial of pretentiousness while never compromising a thoughtfully refined approach to handmade cuisine.
In 2019 they opened The Garrison, an intimate restaurant and bar, to critical acclaim. It was open for 8 months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close it's dining room doors for unseeable amount of time.
It was a devastating situation during the summer of 2020, as the hospitality industry crumbled under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day quickly became an exercise in survival and ingenuity. Hayes thrived in the fight or flight ecosystem of the global pandemic and went into action.
With every wedding and event cancelled that summer for Dandelion, Hayes launched an online market with prepared meals, groceries, wine, beer, imported products, as well as hard to find essential items such as toilet paper, paper towels, disposable gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. Hayes cooked and packaged orders day and night through the week to be ready for pickup day on Saturday.
Once a few cooks were able to return to work safely, Hayes moved to the next project.
At the realization that The Garrison wasn’t going to work in a take-out box, the kitchen at The Garrison was reworked to support a whole new operation, which Hayes branded as Thoroughfare - An ode to his love for indulgent and messy fast food, serving double-pattied smash burgers, gochujang fried chicken sandwiches, fries, and chargrilled skewers. He figured the world needed comfort food, and for whatever reason, if they made it out of the seemingly endless pandemic, he might have another restaurant concept that worked.
Hayes then launched a ticketed Chef’s Table in The Garrison’s riverside gardens, that sold out an entire summer’s worth of dinners in less than one minute.
He then bought a used 5500 lumen HD movie projector and borrowed a 20 foot screen and PA system, launching a weekly summer movie series in The Garrison’s expansive and empty parking lot. Families came to tailgate, watch nostalgic movies, and eat Thoroughfare.
Eventually, The Garrison was able to reopen after 18 months of closure, and Christine and Christian took ownership of the sleeping landmark corner store down the street from the restaurant, which would serve as a permanent home for the pandemic born Thoroughfare, as well as the online market. Thoroughfare opened it’s doors in February of 2021, and the corner store, The Handy Store, is set to open in 2023 to the public.