Conversations: Two Chefs One Space

Epicure & Jack’s Tavern in collaboration with Patriot’s Grill 

David Finlayson is the owner and chef of Millbrook’s Epicure & Jack’s Tavern, formerly The Faintail Seafood & Steakhouse. Alongside his wife, Becca, Finlayson is committed to creating a destination where memories are made while offering a dining experience that’s both unique and personal. His business is centered on supporting the community, made evident in his recent partnership with Patriot’s Grill owner, Glen Tarantino.

The two local chefs have teamed up to share the former Fantail space with Tarantino serving his menu at lunch and the Epicure & Jack’s Tavern menu taking the spotlight at dinner. Read their story of teamwork, consideration, and collaboration to create a cohesive and dynamic dining experience in a shared space.

“This partnership has strengthened our business and enriched the community by offering diverse, high-quality dining options and supporting local producers and restaurants while contributing to the local economy.”

How did you get started in the restaurant industry and how has it changed over the last 5-10 years?

We transitioned from The Fantail to Epicure & Jack’s Tavern in 2019, initially drawn by a passion for creating memorable dining experiences. The Fantail began in 1978 as a regional favorite seafood buffet and one of the most prominent restaurants in Alabama with seating for over 600 people. The industry has dramatically evolved, especially in the last 5-10 years, focusing more on sustainability, local sourcing, and adapting to changing consumer preferences.

Can you tell us about your rebrand and partnership with Patriot’s Grill?

The rebranding to Epicure & Jack’s Tavern, alongside our partnership with Glen Tarantino (owner of Patriot’s Grill) and his fantastic family, is a strategic collaboration to enhance our culinary offerings and service. This partnership leverages our combined strengths to offer diverse, high-quality dining experiences. With the declining interest in buffet-style eating, we decided to provide an upscale experience that’s approachable and fun for all.

How did this partnership form and who was the driving force in making it happen?

This partnership was formed through a shared vision for excellence and a desire to innovate within the restaurant industry. Glen Tarantino, our excellent partner and friend, played a pivotal role in realizing this vision, bringing together complementary strengths and expertise. While initially unexpected, joining forces with another chef brought new perspectives and creativity to our culinary offerings, enriching our menu.

Have there been any challenges with sharing the space?

Open communication, respect for each other’s expertise, and a unified vision have successfully prevented substantive challenges. It’s an absolute pleasure working beside Glen!

Must-Have Work Tool:

A sharp chef’s knife symbolizes the importance of precision and care in every aspect of our work.

All-Time Favorite Meal:

A classic Southern-style braised oxtail over coconut rice, shared with family and friends.

Guilty Pleasure:

A giant slice of Mr. Glen’s decadent, homemade desserts!

Can you share a memorable experience from this partnership?

A memorable experience was the community’s positive response to our rebranding and new menu. Seeing repeat customers and receiving constructive feedback has been incredibly rewarding.

What is the biggest challenge you and your business have faced in the last year?

The biggest challenge has been navigating the changing consumer preferences and the global shifts in the restaurant industry, requiring constant innovation and adaptability.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your experience within the industry?

The most significant lesson has been the importance of adaptability and the need to continually evolve to meet changing market demands while maintaining high standards of quality and service.

What is your favorite dish or menu item to serve?

My favorite dish to serve is our hand-cut, aged steak, reflecting our commitment to quality and craftsmanship.