When Cress celebrates its ninth anniversary, in August, it will once again change concepts. The DeLand restaurant will essentially no longer operate as a conventional restaurant.
But then little about Cress has been conventional, including its chef and co-owner, Hari Pulapaka, who by day is a math professor at Stetson University, and his wife and Cress co-owner, manager and sommelier, Jenneffer, who is also a podiatric surgeon.
They last changed the concept two years ago, offering Taste Cress, a multi-course degustation, and Counter Cress, for the a la carters. Recently Hari has been performing all kitchen positions solely for the restaurant, which is open only Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
When the concept changes yet again in August, it won’t even be open for those days, at least not consistently. In fact, it will not have any regular hours.
Why the change? “Because I’m bored with doing it this way,” Hari Pulapaka told me.
“Also,” he added, “I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a normal life and have a restaurant.”
Instead of regular restaurant hours, the new plan will will offer a “calendar of events,” with wine dinners, cooking classes, guest chefs and farm-to-table dinners. “There may be a week when it’s just cooking classes, maybe a week with just wine classes” he said. “We just won’t have any advertised hours.”
Pulapaka explained that being tied to a routine was beginning to weigh on them, and he isn’t comfortable with having other chefs take over when he’s not there. “I don’t know how chefs do that,” he said, “put their food in someone else's’ hands.” He also hopes the new concept will allow him to be more creative. “If I have to have escargot on my menu one more time I’m going to shoot myself.”
Cress opened in August of 2008 and has been well received critically. Pulapaka has been nominated on multiple occasions for the Best Chef South award from the James Beard Foundation. Cress recently was awarded the Gold Award for Most Romantic in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.
Cress will continue to operate on its current schedule until the end of August.