When John McNinch sold the Olde Heritage Tavern in Lenox, he had a new idea for his next venture: to do it with his son Tucker.
And out of that concept was born the 101 Restaurant & Bar, which operates in the Holiday Inn at 1 West St. in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
“Tucker and I set out to start a business together after the sale of the Heritage,” John McNinch wrote in an email. “We knew it would be in the hospitality industry, but we were not sure of the exact business.
“After missing out on a few different items, we decided that we wanted to start a restaurant group and operate and consult in many of the restaurants in Berkshire County. This opportunity came up, and we thought it would be a great starting point for our business.
“101 Restaurant & Bar is the first restaurant of what we hope to be many under the McNinch Restaurant Group umbrella.”
Said Tucker McNinch: “101 is a father/son-owned restaurant named after a love of Dalmatians [the McNinches have one named Taje].”
John McNinch, who grew up at Eastover resort (in the Lenox area), said “the hospitality industry is in my blood.” He moved to the Boston area and worked in restaurants there, eventually ending up at the famed Legal Seafoods.
He said he was drawn to that area “for a girl, married her and then moved back to Lenox to start a family.”
He also bought in 2000 what he described as a “rundown dive bar” and “created a restaurant that the locals and tourists were all able to enjoy.”
He said he built The Olde Heritage Tavern “into a great spot, and our staff (which is like our family) is still there. What we were known for at The Heritage was our staff. That is what we bring to 101 Restaurant & Bar, a staff that works to make everyone’s entire experience a pleasure.”
The 101 Restaurant is open every day, serves all three meals on a varied schedule and features a full bar.
John McNinch said the menu at 101 is unique to the area. He called it “Southern-inspired” and said it has something for everyone’s tastes.
“Many people expected a similar menu to our past menu,” he said. “There are some overlapping items, but the new items are all amazing: shrimp and grits, chicken and dumplings and so much more.”
And there is that one extra ingredient that the McNinches hope will inspire the clientele even if it isn’t listed on the menu.
“Our employee-focused approach also sets us apart,” John McNinch said. “We are trying to create careers for our employees.”
Both McNinches touted their training partnerships with Taconic High School and Berkshire Community College, where they are getting students interested in culinary arts and developing them for careers. The McNinches also say they have one of only a few restaurants that offer health insurance benefits and 401k matching to employees.
“We also center our program around helping our staff improve their skills so that they can move up in the industry to higher paying jobs: dishwashers training to be cooks, cooks to chefs etc.,” Tucker McNinch said. “We want to help our staff make careers in the industry instead of just having jobs in the industry.
“We are working to cultivate an environment where we can have a great long-term staff that is the best in the business. On top of that, mine and my father’s hands-on approach to running a business gives our restaurants a very personal touch.”