A Taste of Chives

Chef Aaron Havlovitz, interior designer Sheri Worth of Deasign A La Mode, and Chives owner JR Schoenfeld. Schoenfeld’s second Chives in Baileys Harbor opened May 15. Photo by Jim Lundstrom.

A restaurant reviewer at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel started off her review of Chives in the Green Bay suburb of Suamico by saying, “Lately I’ve been wishing for a bullet train between Milwaukee and Suamico so I could dine at Chives as often as I’d like.”

Chef/owner JR Schoenfeld established Chives in 2002 and since then has won over a steady stream of diners like the newspaper reviewer with great food in a casual atmosphere.

Now Door County gets a chance to see Chives in action with this week’s opening of Chives in Baileys Harbor.

“It’s amazing how welcoming Baileys Harbor is,” Schoenfeld said as workers continued to pull the look of the new restaurant together. “I looked at a bunch of different places. It seemed like Baileys Harbor was the most open arms of everyone, from the businesses to the people, everything very, very accommodating. I think it was a good move for us to come here.”

Schoenfeld said he has felt Door County beckoning for a while, but never felt the right opportunity present itself until the building at 8041 Highway 57 became available.

“This building is a lot like Chives in Green Bay,” he said. “It’s old, it’s from the same era. We do a little lipstick makeover but leave the charm of the building. That’s pretty much it. A good real estate deal is why we moved up. We have a lot of people from Green Bay who eat in our restaurant and weekend up here, so it’s nice to offer our regular clientele another option up here.”

While Chives has established itself among foodies as a high-end dining option, Schoenfeld said Chives really wants to be all things to all people.

“The biggest thing is, we really try to take care of everybody,” he said. “If you come in with your wife and want to have a $45 dry-aged prime steak, that’s available. If your wife wants a $14 fish fry, that’s available. There are things on a menu for a foodie. There are things on the menu for your grandfather who is a farmer. He can get a steak and fries and a salad. Our opening special is going to be a twice-baked potato, homemade steak sauce, a big 10-ounce filet and a salad. We do a little bit of everything.”

Opening a second Chives will allow for some playing with the menu, Schoenfeld said.

“Chives has been around for such a long time and there are so many items we have to have on our menu because people want them,” he said. “It’s kind of fun because we’ll have the opportunity to change some of those menu items up here, although we have to keep our staples – steak frites, chicken and goat cheese wontons, chicken marsala – there are a few things we’ll still have, but we’ll be able to play a little bit. And we’ll have some things from our other restaurant, Bleu [in De Pere].”

“We like to play with our food,” adds Aaron Havlovitz, who has worked for Schoenfeld in Suamico and now takes over the kitchen in Baileys Harbor. “I’m excited to be here.”

“Aaron is a great cook, been with me for a long time and will use a lot of local produce,” Schoenfeld said. “In Green Bay we have a huge garden and use a lot of organic products. We have a greenhouse to stretch the seasons. Up until January we were using our own carrots. We believe in local but we also believe in serving the best food we possibly can.”

As you walk into Chives, there will be a bar with about 20 stools.

“The bar will be huge,” Schoenfeld said. “Two good bartenders, my son, Lucas, and Patrick Johnson. They’re mixologists. We make our own sweet & sour. We make our own juices. We experiment with bitters. We’ll have a good beer list from local to whatever. A good wine list. If you get a cocktail, it’s shaken and poured and done right. If you order an old-fashioned, it’s muddled. We pay as much attention to the cocktails as the food.”

Schoenfeld said the dining room should seat 60 people.

“It will be very European,” he said. “You’ll hear the conversation at the table next to you. It won’t be the kind of place you whisper at. I like chatter. I like loud. It will be a good buzz. If you want to dress up, you can dress up. If you want to come in t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops – that’s my normal attire when I’m working – you’re good with that, too. Casual to elegant, we cover it all. That’s the big thing about Chives, friendly place, friendly service.”

Chives will also be open for lunch on weekends, with the same menu offered to dinner guests.

On Saturdays Chives will sell artisan bread to benefit a not-for-profit bakery called the Seven Loaves Project that Schoenfeld built in Rwanda with help from Coach Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers.

“Right now we employ 25 people at the bakery in Rwanda,” Schoenfeld said. “We send kids to college. We feed 6,500 school kids a week. I spent about a quarter of million dollars building this bakery and I haven’t given it money in 2 ½ years. It’s self-sufficient. It’s rolling, it’s profitable and we’re working on another one in Kenya. The way I raise money for that, we bake our own bread. It’s all naturally leavened or some lightly yeasted. The profit from that bread goes toward Seven Loaves Project. One day a week we do a big breads sale to support our African project.”

Chives, 8041 Highway 57, Baileys Harbor, 920.839.2300

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