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Frisco STYLE Magazine

Keeping It Casual

Aug 01, 2022 ● By Ashli Urano

by Ashli Urano

The Heritage Table, located in a 1917 converted Victorian-style home at Main and 6th Streets, continues to reach new heights courtesy of the vision of chef-owner Rich Vana. His is a story of an unwavering passion for cooking that has earned his Frisco restaurant plenty of fans and accolades. 

After graduating with a journalism degree from Baylor University, Vana began working as a sportswriter before realizing that an office job could never be a part of his future. 

 Through his love of food, he created the popular blog Entrée Dallas, which covered the city’s dining scene. He began staging in various restaurant kitchens for a week at a time and wrote about the experiences in a series titled Kitchen Quixote, through which he acquired an appreciation and understanding of the hard work that goes into running a restaurant. (Vana ceased writing the blog in 2014.) 

“During that time I got to know really good chefs and restaurant owners like Dean Fearing (of Fearing’s Restaurant in Dallas), who has been around for decades. … We once talked for 45 minutes about margaritas for a story. It was great getting his insight and feedback.” 

The next chapter began when The Heritage Table first came to life as a catering company in a rented kitchen at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar in Dallas. After three years of catering, Vana started the process of becoming a restaurant owner. 

 The Heritage Table was initially open for lunch and dinner as well as brunch. Vana’s decision later to exclusively offer dinner service five nights weekly allowed for the opportunity to focus on delivering to diners the experience he wanted for them.  

The restaurant boasts a fine-dining atmosphere while maintaining a feel that is casual and relaxing. “We put the pretense and formality on our servers to make sure our guests have a very casual experience. … They do a really good job of achieving that.”

 As the pandemic ramped up in 2020, Vana was unsure about The Heritage Table’s future. After working on ideas to keep the restaurant afloat, he and his team opened a pop-up concept called Impractical Sandwich. Brown-bag sandwiches were available for takeout, along with deli items. The idea was a success, which allowed Vana to retain some of his employees while selling up to 50 sandwiches daily.

“I love sandwiches and it was one of those things where we thought, ‘Why don’t we put The Heritage Table between two buns and see if people like it?’ We ended up with a really great response,” he said. (Vana now sells a variety of sandwiches at the restaurant for takeout from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays). 

The Heritage Table reopened for business on April 17, 2021, which also was the place’s fourth anniversary in business. Although its menu has been described as New American, Vana said his dishes now reflect more Southwestern cuisine. Dishes are made from scratch with ingredients sourced from regional Texas farms and artisans including Comeback Creek Farm in Pittsburg, Driftwood Meadows in Centerville and Lost Ruby Ranch in Bonham.

“We’ve got a buttered red fish with succotash. It sounds accessible because it is accessible, but it’s also a dish that’s unlike, hopefully, anything anyone’s ever had,” he said. “We try to walk that line.”

Diners, Vana said, “like consistency, and that’s fair. You have to learn who your diners are.”

 When crafting recipes, he said, “In my mind I’ve got flavors I want to hit. In terms of flavor-texture, you’ve got to add salt, acid, heat and sugar. You must make sure all of those are on the spectrum in order to define the whole impression of the dish.” 

Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kireina.