On April 25, 2017, New Yorkers Annalisa Maceda and George Kaden opened a nose-to-tail restaurant and bar in Woodlawn. She was a former general manager at The Tippler at Chelsea Market, he was the chef de cuisine for James-Beard-winner Marco Canora at Hearth. They named the restaurant for the Brooklyn plaza near where they first met: Grand Army Tavern. Since then, the two have developed a following for their neighborhood restaurant, including a StarChefs Rising Star award for Kaden. Each week, chef Kaden receives a half-hog and designs a menu with that one animal. Maceda focuses on the bar, with her popular Mezcal Mondays and several fun and bright cocktails.
Now one year in, the two are celebrating by giving back: On April 29, Grand Army Tavern will host a tiki-esque bash, complete with a 60-pound roast hog, rum tasting, and pink flamingo ice luge. For $20, guests get two drink tickets, a raffle ticket and entry to the shindig. All the proceeds go to A Life Story, a foundation that funds ALS research. Eater Portland chatted with Maceda as she prepared for the weekend party.
What has changed since you opened? Well, it feels more real than it did a year ago. When we first opened, it was just two or three people inside a space, this place that had existed in George’s and my mind for so long. It felt so personal. Now, it feels more separate from us: It has staff and people who visit. When you start, the people who like your instagram posts are your mom and your friends, but now it feels more like its own entity.
What are your plans for next year? We have so many plans. It feels like we achieved so much of what we wanted to. We’re exactly where we wanted to be not just at one year, but in five years. So as minimum wage goes up, we’re changing things for our staff and we’re giving back to the community. We’ve always wanted to provide plus-plus-plus benefits, maternity leave, paternity leave, but we have to be really strategic for how we do that so we don’t get all these benefits and shut down in six months. We’re doing our first charity fundraiser, that feels great — doing things that benefit the larger community is important to us.
What has surprised you about running Grand Army? How emotional it would be. I knew it would be a lot of hard work, but I didn’t know how much of your soul and heart will go into it. As much as I thought we were really tolerant and empathetic (in other restaurants), I really wasn’t. I now feel like I have a much better understanding of what it takes to get it going. Good luck to everyone out there that does it.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu? That’s a tough one. My favorite cocktail is the smoked peach margarita, that one is delicious. It’s mezcal, peach liqueur, tequila, lemon, lime — it’s so good. For his food, it’s changing all the time, but that bologna slider. I try not to eat a bologna slider every day, but I end up eating a bologna slider every day.
Grand Army Tavern’s one year anniversary party begins at 5 p.m. and will end at 9 p.m. April 29. This interview has been condensed.
Correction: This story has been corrected to show that Kaden was the chef de cuisine at Hearth, not the sous chef.