Caroline Glover loves to give dinner parties. It’s not uncommon for her to have 10 close friends over to her house, with people gathered in the kitchen, talking to her as she prepares the meal. Same goes for dining at her restaurant, Annette, at the Stanley Marketplace, only 40 or 50 people can gather, still free to chat with Glover in the kitchen. It’s a nightly dinner party, just as Glover envisioned it, spurred on by the lessons learned from the restaurant’s namesake, her great aunt, Annette.
“She was just a really strong personality and super confident in her decisions and choices. I always really looked up to her,” says Glover of Annette, who passed away when Glover was 24. “She was always very vocal about doing what you want and if you feel strongly about something, that probably means you’re right.”
When Glover was a sophomore in college in Texas, she was planning to become a doctor or physical therapist but found herself increasingly dissatisfied with college life. “I just didn’t feel right and didn’t feel happy. I started working in a restaurant and it did feel right to me, so I feel like that mantra my aunt had about following your heart and your gut—that was really a jumping point for me.” She applied to culinary school in New York and was accepted but chose to wait a year before attending to work at a resort in Yosemite. “It let me get out of my bubble and have different experiences. Then I was ready to move on,” says Glover.
Glover also worked on farms as part of her culinary experience. “It really makes you appreciate what it takes to get the product,” she says. “It makes you aware of when there are shortages and prices have to go up. You have to roll with the punches and maybe take (an item) off the menu rather than order it from Mexico, for instance. It just makes you more aware.”
Glover deliberately doesn’t refer to her restaurant as “farm-to-table,” instead calling it “scratch-to-table.” “To be truly farm-to-table is quite a feat so I didn’t want to do any false advertising,” she says. For her, scratch-to-table means they make just about everything in-house. “We break down our chickens, make our own stocks, our sauerkraut, our crème fraiche—a lot of little details that are easy to buy but we take the time to make them ourselves.” Although Glover says doing things from scratch adds 8–14 hours to the week, she feels it’s worth it and that it shows in the meals.
Approaching its one-year anniversary, Annette is Glover’s first, and probably only, foray into restaurant ownership. Working 11–13-hour days, six days a week, she can’t imagine opening another restaurant. “This is my life! I would want to be there all the time and I couldn’t imagine splitting my time,” she says. “This just works on this scale.” It helps that Glover’s husband, Nelson, runs the business side of the restaurant. On their day off, they often go on a long trail run, have a nice dinner, and then sleep for 12 hours.
Although Annette is part of the Stanley Marketplace, it is tucked away, providing a bit of an oasis from the rest of the bustling space. A long, darkened hallway leading to the main entrance helps set the tone for the calm, low-key feeling of Glover’s restaurant, which is exactly what she was after.
With her great aunt Annette’s influences ever-present for Glover, she is doing exactly what she wanted to do—create a small, neighborhood restaurant where people could gather. “I hope people can feel comfortable and cozy and that they can hang out and spend time here,” she says. “And although it might not be a familiar setting at first, I want it to feel familiar to them by the time they leave.”