HOURS: Mon-Wed, 9am-5pm
Experience Tru nighttime on The Bricks in Kearney
It’s early evening and shadows are pooling on The Bricks in Kearney’s historic city center. Soft lighting illuminates artist Patricia Scarborough’s Nebraska landscape paintings at the Tru Café. The lights and colors of the paintings shimmer in the windows like reflections in pools of water. We are drawn into the mix of people laughing and talking on a Friday evening, enjoying good company, aperitifs and a bistro-style dinner. A Tru experience is intimate, and time seems to stand still. As we enter, mellow chords of an acoustic guitar bring smiles to our faces, and we anticipate a big city evening in rural Nebraska.
Our party of seven had previously eaten lunch at Tru , but on this Friday evening in December, we wanted to experience the ambience of a bistro evening and to taste the artful plates of wholesome and flavorful seasonal menu items.
Roberta Loescher, co-owner, met us at the door and led us to a country table with comfortable seating, handsome flatware and thick linen napkins. She and husband Mark have owned Tru for four years and supervised a series of renovations to accommodate their expanding family business concept. Roberta’s voice was warm with pride as she described Tru’s history.
In search of a home
The story begins with Loeschers’ daughter, Jessica. She was searching for a location to open a salon and spa in Kearney’s historic city center. A building on Central Avenue was available. The family, including Jessica; Aubrey, a registered nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney; and Spencer, a trained chef then employed as a sous chef at a notable Denver restaurant, looked over the premises, talked together, crunched numbers, and, after three days of deliberation, purchased the space.
The concept for the restaurant and business suited their beliefs about cooking with natural, locally sourced ingredients, and Jessica’s intent to use natural shampoos, hair colors, body lotions and other organic and natural products in her salon and spa. Spencer invented the name.
“Tru comes from our desire to prepare the truest form of any food we put on the table,” Spencer said. “We believe in being true to ourselves, true to our roots, and we believe in sourcing foods close to their true source, the local farmers and growers.”
“The first step on the blueprint for success was to purchase the building, get the salon up and running and then the café, set up the gallery, and display art work on the walls,” Roberta said. Until 2012, Roberta and family felt content with the five businesses in their building on The Bricks. The Tru Café served lunch six days/week, hung regional artist’s paintings in its gallery, displayed and sold gifts in its gift shop area, provided meeting room facilities, and also housed the salon and spa.
New concept appeals to all
But during last year’s Christmas season, the dynamic of the family changed. Chef Spencer and his wife announced the upcoming birth of their first child. They wanted to explore the possibility of moving back to Kearney near the family.
“As a family we talked about Spencer’s move and decided 2013 was the right time to start nighttime dining and present an artful menu,” Roberta said. They decided on a bistro concept and designed surroundings which would appeal to their neighbors on The Bricks while also welcoming moms with babies. Patron’s dogs are welcome on leashes tied to the unique metal outdoor patio enclosure created by designer and master welder Nick Keizer. “We invite dogs and always set a dog watering bowl beside the patio,” Roberta said.
The successful blueprint for the nighttime Tru bistro concept included acquisition of a liquor license, a remodel to integrate an upscale kitchen, designing and adding the nighttime menu for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and arranging for musicians.
Chef Spencer sources food as locally as possible. Baby greens, basil and tomatoes from Schwarz Family Farms near Bertrand, farm fresh eggs from a supplier near Wood River, Neb., chicken from the Rocky Mountain Poultry Association, and beef from Garcia Farms, Wood River.
Food plated with care
We ordered from a wide selection of beverages and selected as our appetizer the edamame plate accompanied by Chef Spender’s freshly baked specialty bread. The Friday evening bistro was serving Pad Thai; a slider plate including a chorizo meatball slider, ginger barbecue pork slider and carnitas slider; and quinoa pesto linguini. The slider buns were made in-house, and the fillings were spicy and wonderfully flavored. Every menu item was plated with care and with a natural and organic edge.
I wanted to try every salad on the menu. Our selection included the house salad, Caesar salad, spinach/berry/avocado salad, and beet/goat cheese/pistachio salad. Each salad looked like it was lifted from a page in Bon Appétit and featured delicately flavored house dressings and organic greens.
Tru has a full coffee bar and its coffee is roasted daily. The dessert menu changes daily, and we were fortunate to taste the pumpkin swirl with praline topping and key lime pie
We enjoyed the Tru’s bistro plates for the savory flavors, eye appeal, healthy portions and the natural and organic ingredients. Following a week of too much to do and too many obligations, I choose the music and the relaxed and pleasantly social bistro atmosphere. Join us for a Tru nighttime experience.