Business creativity comes in many forms, but it’s not always perceptible on the surface. Often, it takes more than a passing glance to discover the creative spirit at the core of a company.
One fine dining venture in Tacoma exemplifies this truth. Launched in 2015 by founder Derek Bray, The Table is a quaint, open-air restaurant nestled in the heart of the Sixth Avenue business district. Bray opened The Table after years of restaurant service and a two-year stint running the Tacoma Rescue Mission kitchen, where he credits his executives with “mentoring me on how to be a leader.”
Bray envisioned a simple and pleasant dining atmosphere with outstanding cuisine that would appeal to foodies, young and old, but also diners who would appreciate the restaurant’s palpable community vibe.
“I was aiming for a modern, fine dining concept that also promoted a solid sense of community,” explained the seasoned chef. “Much like the fabulous New York City restaurants you can find tucked into its thriving neighborhoods.”
Indeed, The Table’s dining space falls somewhere between old Tacoma and chic Manhattan. White subway tiles cover the wall behind the bar, where a menagerie of stemware and award-winning wines are on display, along with a distinctive, hand-blown glass carafe. The table tops are made of thick Douglas fir, matched with unpretentious, metal-legged chairs. An old ladder hangs from the ceiling, and black wires wind through its rungs, leading to a spree of Edison bulbs hanging artfully over high tops in the center of the room.
During open hours, any combination of The Table’s nine staff will be on the dining floor interacting with patrons, or introducing the restaurant’s latest “seasonal Northwest” culinary fare. To the delight of customers, even the chefs assume an active role in the dining room, where ceremoniously, they gather around every plate as it arrives at the outbound service table. Thoughtfully, each chef will take a turn at “plating up” the cuisine, adding the final creative touches to the meal’s presentation.
Overall, Bray feels his business decisions are made with intention. For example, the open and exposed setting signifies the restaurant’s authenticity, as well as Bray’s deep commitment to ensuring each guest has a uniquely personal dining experience. Likewise, he describes The Table’s culture as “friendly, caring, highly skilled, and professional,” labeling it an “intentional family.”
“The creativity here is meant to be about food and people,” Bray said emphatically. “Everything else is just a complement.”