Local Businesses and COVID-19: Farmer’s Table


Mushrooms & Fog appetizer at Farmer's Table in New Canaan. Credit: Andrew Ault

For today’s Q&A with a local business, we talk to Robert Ubaldo, chef-owner at Farmer’s Table. 

Robert Ubaldo, chef/owner of The Farmer’s Table. Terry Dinan photo

The celebrated Forest Street restaurant is open 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is trying to take advance of an expanded outdoor dining area (though, according to Ubaldo, some problems have arisen with respect to plan recently approved by the town that had been developed by a group of citizen volunteers).

Here’s our interview. 

Skate with Meunière sauce at Farmer’s Table in New Canaan. Credit: Andrew Ault

New Canaanite: You recently have been allowed, as per the state, to open an outdoor dining area, after weeks of only doing pickup. How’s it going for you?

Robert Ubaldo: It’s been real tough, because we only have a limited number of seats outside. The tables all have to be six feet away from each other and then also away from the curb and our fit-out barrier, so you can’t fit many people out there. We have to tough it out, because we have staff outside now, and a lot of people are on unemployment and they don’t want to come back if they’ll be making less money from these tables. However, the good part is that the to-go business is strong. People are really nice.

That was my next question. What has the community’s response been like?

The town has responded really well. These people are great. Our to-go business is probably just as many and sometimes more than we do dine-in.

Shrimp Mojo at Farmer’s Table in New Canaan. Credit: Andrew Ault

But that’s not to say you are taking in more revenue as a business?

We are making less money, because there’s no alcohol sales.

So the outdoor dining has required you to increase your floor staff and invest in the fit-out barriers, and there are a limited number of seats there. What are your concerns as a business owner, given that we don’t know how long these restrictions will last?

One of my biggest concerns is getting people to work before we are fully open. That’s hard, because they make good money on unemployment and we don’t want to make it difficult by making them come back before they can also support themselves. We had to lay off a lot of staff at the beginning. 

Pappardelle bolognese at Farmer’s Table in New Canaan. Credit: Andrew Ault

What does your staff look like now?

We have a full kitchen and then we have a couple of people helping out front. 

What are your most popular menu items?

Right now we are selling a lot of tuna. We have a sesame crusted tuna. Lot of hamburgers, lots of tacos and a lot of stir-fry’s. Believe it or not, stir-fry’s are one of our best selling items.

What is your message for regular customers of Farmer’s Table? 

Thanks for the support. You are great, sending us emails. And the people that come here regularly, they really have been supportive. I only have good things to say about them. And they have been very patient, too. People have stepped up. They are being extra generous and extra nice. 

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