New restaurant Hickory & Oak to come to town

Olivia Mohr

Joshua Poling, along with his wife Chelsey who co-owns Home Cafe & Marketplace, owns Hickory & Oak. He is a chef, and he said he fills many roles as the owner of Home Cafe & Marketplace. Poling is unsure when Hickory & Oak will open, but he hopes it will be ready early 2018. Hickory & Oak will be located at 705 State Street Unit 54.

“Construction is such an unpredictable process,” Poling said. “We will open our doors as soon as possible.”

Poling said one of his goals is to provide local food for customers, which is one of his goals at Home Cafe & Marketplace as well, and he said he believes it is important to provide local food to customers because “the freshest food is the best food.”

“We always strive to emphasize and highlight local products,” Poling said. “Unfortunately it’s impossible to do a completely local restaurant, but we will continue our tradition of working with a great family of local purveyors.”

Though he said providing local ingredients is not always easy, he finds it is important to form relationships with local farmers and suppliers to gain access to local ingredients. He said Home Cafe & Marketplace currently works with over 40 local farmers and artisans.

“It’s all about relationships,” he said. “It’s definitely not always the easiest way to do things, but it always starts with a handshake and a hello.”

In terms of the setup of Hickory & Oak, Poling said it will be a “split concept” with a dining room side that will focus on “premium beef,” and the bar side will provide “small shared plates,” and “at the heart of the kitchen is a live fire broiler and smoker.”

Poling is excited to open Hickory & Oak, and he is excited to hand his responsibilities at Home Cafe & Marketplace over to his wife Chelsey.

“One, I am excited to tell this new story,” he said. “Two years ago, I sat down with Chelsey and told her there was a new story I wanted to tell, and I didn’t feel like I could do it at Home Cafe. Home [Cafe] will forever be my and Chelsey’s stories. Hickory & Oak will be Kentucky’s story. It’s very exciting. I am also looking forward to completely handing the reins of Home Cafe over to Chelsey. She is an unbelievably talented chef who has worked under me for eight years now. It’s her time to shine, and she’s earned every bit of it. She’s going to be incredible and blow everyone away.”

Kyle Cochran owns Rustic Nail & Co, an interior design and building company that is planning the design and building of Hickory & Oak. He said Poling gave Rustic Nail & Co. a lot of freedom to come up with a design concept for Hickory & Oak.

“Josh has been probably my best client as far as letting go,” Cochran said. “Josh really trusts our abilities and what we do as a company, and so I think my favorite part is that Josh gave us a blank canvas. He gave us the parameters of the restaurant and literally word-for-word said, “you do your thing.’”

Cochran said he appreciates that Poling gave the company freedom because “that’s when big things happen.”

He said Rustic Nail & Co. does many “custom things, things that people have never seen, definitely some design aspects that have not been around this area,” and it is “trying to raise the bar for interior design for Bowling Green.”

Rustic Nail & Co. did the interior design and building for Steamer Seafood in Bowling Green, where a large metal fish hangs from the ceiling. Cochran said that, like the metal fish at Steamer Seafood, the interior design at Hickory & Oak will feature “wow factors” of its own, but he isn’t willing to disclose the details yet. In other words, he wants customers to be surprised.

“We’ve got a couple things up our sleeves that we don’t really want to discuss just yet,” he said. “We kind of want to have a wow factor.”

Cochran said he thinks Poling is a “versatile chef” who is “very, very well-versed in what he does.”

“I think he’s going to bring cuisine to a whole other level for Bowling Green as far as the food, and I think the interior design is going to be able to match what he brings to the table – pardon the pun,” he said.

Cochran said that Rustic Nail & Co. is working with many different elements and materials in the construction of Hickory & Oak, including copper work, brick work, reclaimed wood, “special lighting,” iron work and custom metal fabrication.

Poling said he is looking forward to watching Hickory & Oak become a part of the Bowling Green community.

“It’s already bringing a lot of excitement and attention to the community,” Poling said. “We just want to be a valuable asset that contributes. Bowling Green is home to me and it is so important to me that I have my restaurants here. I hope to add another great restaurant to our community’s fantastic restaurant scene.”

Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]