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Tot owners buy Playwright, hire Amuse chef

The Playwright Public House on A Street is launching into its third owner in the past year — and they are a large and enthusiastic family of restaurant folk who operate nearby Tot Restaurant. 

Both restaurants will remain similar to what they've been, say owners Andrew Will, the owner and chef of Tot, and his brother-in-law and co-owner Sean Simpson.

Many relatives were pitching in over the weekend, getting the Playwright (the name will stay) into shape for a more “fine dining” experience, but still with the same “public house” vibration — a place to down pints, chat with friends and order good dinners, a notch up from the pub chow of the past, says Will. 

As a signal of their seriousness, they have engaged Josh Dorcak, the chef of Amuse, to hold the reins at Playwright. It is slated to open April 1. 

The food could be termed “gastropub” food. To them, says Will, it means a focus on local organic food and “modern cuisine.”

“We’re trying to keep the same old feel of the Playwright, as community operated, a place with good parking, a comfortable community atmosphere where people enjoy good food and good music and good company — but no darts. The menu is meant as a sharing thing, people feeling comfy as a family.” 

Still, the new Playwright will carry “the professionalism of fine dining, more restaurant-oriented than bar oriented,” Will says. 

Playwright will continue to have beer, wine and hard drinks — and Tot will continue with just beer and wine. The beers will showcase the expanding array of local breweries. Wines will also feature local vintners but combined with other wines of the world, as, says Will, “we only have so many varieties here in this small region.” 

Will has 20 years experience as a chef and will continue to head up Tot, a southeast Asian restaurant that hybrids with modern Northwest cuisine. It is located in the large building bounded by Oak, Pioneer and A Streets. 

The big questions hurled at them, says Will, is “Will we still have the live music and dancing?”

Absolutely, they emphasize. It will be a big part of the ongoing Playwright. 

“We’ll have it back to what it was by First Friday (April 3). People have been begging us to keep the music and we will, on Saturday night also and multiple week nights.”

The Playwright was started four years ago by Peter and Kelli Bolton, then bought last July by Scott Giossi and Jeanette Myers, who sold it to the new owners.

The Playwright is across from Ashland Hardware on A Street. It will be open 4 to 10 p.m. most nights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. They will add lunch later.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.