Just yards from the Marietta Harbor and tucked behind Front Street, the city’s newest restaurant is ready to open its doors to guests. And beginning July 1st, when guests cross the threshold of 740 Social they’ll discover an inviting, sophisticated space, reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy, that combines a quality dining experience with outstanding customer service.
Owners Sebastian and Whitney Cruells are opening 740 Social with a clear vision – “We want to offer guests comfortable gathering areas, excellent customer service, and a menu that features delicious twists on favorite classics.” Both have years of restaurant experience under their belts and it’s apparent they have the background and skill to bring that vision to life. Whitney was born in Parkersburg and attended NYU to study theater and political science. She met Sebastian, originally from Argentina, while they both worked for the same popular restaurant in New York City. They learned the restaurant business by working various positions, from bussing tables to setup to serving. Their restaurant journey took them to Los Angeles and even Hong Kong, opening and managing restaurants and honing more skills as their careers evolved.
When the restaurant business brought the couple back to the Mid-Ohio Valley in 2012, they knew that opening their own restaurant was in the future. Each time a potential space became available, they would scout it out but knew they needed just the right location. After having their third child in November 2018, Whitney and Sebastian moved to Marietta in May 2019. In July, they were enjoying their first night out sans children and spotted the For Sale sign on Jimbo’s (previous owner Jim Bauer had sadly passed away in March of 2018). They were charmed by the exposed brick walls and unique features and agreed they had found their perfect location. The building itself, nestled among other historic structures, inspired the decision to create a speakeasy-style décor.
They can have adult cocktails in the lounge or treat their grandparents in the dining room or meet friends on the patio.
Locals familiar with the old night spots Jimbo’s and Slapshotz, won’t recognize the renovated space. Tile floors have been replaced by wood, pool tables have given way to an attractive dining room, and tufted leather furniture anchors a cozy lounge accented with flickering lights. The transformation has indeed created a speakeasy-style eatery that feels perfectly suited to historic downtown Marietta. The gracefully curved bar is the original brick with a newly refinished countertop; the beautiful built-in back bar is also original, its gleaming wood trim adding vintage ambiance to the room.
Whitney says they wanted to create a cozy, intimate setting that encourages people to relax and enjoy a meal, whether meeting a friend for lunch or celebrating a special occasion. The couple finished the interior on a budget, shopping locally for antique accents and buying light fixtures at auction. Old mirrors, prints, and photos in vintage frames add a touch of nostalgia to the walls. The mood is enhanced by the lighting – flickering wall sconces and vintage-style fixtures provide an authentic vibe of a 1920s lounge. Guests can dine in the lounge or at the high top tables in the bar area; and just through a darkened hall lies the inviting dining room, and beyond that the outdoor patio. The dining room, simply appointed and draped overhead with strings of lights against the black ceiling, is currently set up to allow social distancing while still accommodating groups up to eight.
The patio welcomes outdoor diners with high top tables under a canopy of lights strung between the brick facades. Regardless of where guests choose to sit, the menu is the same selection of delicious fare. Whitney explains “The different seating options offer guests different experiences – they can have adult cocktails in the lounge or treat their grandparents in the dining room or meet friends on the patio.” And on weekends, the lounge furniture can be moved to accommodate a DJ and dance floor, a feature that the couple felt was important. “We know a lot of young people enjoyed dancing in the old nightspot, and we wanted to provide that opportunity again.”
When chef Jared Lee was brought on board, Whitney shared her vision and ideas and asked him to create a menu that would be innovative but not fussy. Jared is a graduate of the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute and has twelve years of experience in the industry. Their partnership resulted in a list of creative dishes that offer tasty twists on classic favorites, including vegetarian and vegan choices. The Buffalo Cauliflower is a spicy alternative to wings, and the Social Fries are a tantalizing plate of done-just-right fries smothered with cheddar, scallions, and generous bites of bacon. All the breads and baguettes are made in-house, and the couple is especially proud of their bruschetta. The Bruschetta Duo includes a Tuscan white bean with lemon gremolata that is a surprising treat. Jared based the Italian seasoned beef and pork meatballs on his grandmother’s recipe, and the moist meat has a bold spicy flavor enhanced by the marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan.
We didn’t want to be a place that people felt was where they would dine just when they wanted to splurge.
Salads are made with all fresh ingredients, and the presentations are as attractive as the taste is delicious. Whether diners choose a Classic Cob, Caesar Salad or Buffalo Chicken Salad, they will be treated to crisp vegetables, creamy dressing, and house-made croutons. The Quinoa Salad features sweet corn, onion, tomato, avocado, radish, and feta cheese on a bed of quinoa. A dollop of cilantro cream poof on top elevates the salad to “wow” status. Each dish offers something just a bit out of the ordinary, with flavors that are more complex without being pretentious.
It was important to Whitney and Sebastian that the menu should make the meal special while still being affordable. “We didn’t want to be a place that people felt was where they would dine just when they wanted to splurge. We want them to be able to return often without worrying about spending too much.” Thus along with entrees such as New York Strip and Mediterranean Chicken (one of Whitney’s favorite dishes), guests can also order specialty burgers, sandwiches and stone oven pizza. The Classic Smash is a perfectly cooked burger with the trimmings, cheese and their own 740 Sauce that packs a delicious punch. Other sandwich choices include 5 Alarm Burger, Black ‘n Bleu BBQ, and Grilled Chicken. The made-from-scratch pizza dough is the perfect foundation for a variety of meats and meatless toppings.
The couple wants 740 Social to add a special dining experience to weekends so Beginning July 11th, the restaurant will offer Saturday and Sunday brunch beginning at 9:00 am. Whitney says that guests won’t be seeing a typical menu of breakfast basics but will find made-to-order dishes that elevate brunch to a special occasion without the fuss.
With the help of sous chef Brandon Fitch, Jared has been creating an appetizing dessert menu that includes Buckeye Brownies and Key Lime Pie. And in addition to quality beer, wine and classic martinis, the couple has developed their own specialty cocktails made with fresh juices and garnishes. Whitney skillfully mixes tempting drinks named Muskingum Sunburn and Frontiersman along with Strawberry Mojitos and Sangria.
When asked what her favorite menu item is, Whitney answered that it’s not “what” but “how.” “We want guests to leave feeling taken care of, feeling good because they just had a great experience.” She compares the restaurant to ballet, and said: “when someone leaps, someone should be there to catch them.” Hence customer service is a priority, and the new staff is being diligently trained in every aspect of service, from greeting to serving to pouring wine. The teamwork of Whitney and Sebastian, Chef Jared and their kitchen and serving staff has already created a family atmosphere in the restaurant and everyone is excited about their opening. The couple’s motto is “food doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful”, and after guests have enjoyed their first meal at 740 Social they’ll surely agree the Cruells have made their vision a reality.