Truluck’s, Managing Partner & Beverage Director, Dave Mattern
In this second installment of “Finding Vino,” we talk with Dave Mattern, Truluck’s Managing Partner & Beverage Director, about their Stone Crab of course, and what wines to drink with it, but also about how they are responding to Covid-19.
Truluck’s was founded in Texas in 1992 and currently operates restaurants in California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Washington, D.C. Each year they capture, prepare and serve 112,000 pounds of Florida Stone Crab claws to their guests during the season which runs October 15th through May 15th. They serve Stone Crab Claws from Mexico during the Florida off season.
Their crabbers are a “do no harm” kind of folk and they capture the crab in humanely designed wooden traps and haul them onboard. The crabbers then delicately remove a single claw and gently return the crab to their ocean habitat. The crab can then regenerate the claw in coming months, ensuring the health and sustainability of the species.
As you know, I am a huge fan of Truluck’s, especially the “All you can eat Stone Crab Monday’s.” I think I actually ate 27 once. Would love you to tell our readers about what makes Truluck’s Stone Crab unique.
Our south Florida stone crab source ranges from Naples (on Florida’s West coast) all the way down to Key West. We trap for crabs here from October 15th through May 15th. Our off-season source is actually Campeche Bay. Very similar to South Florida, Campeche Bay is only 450 nautical miles from Key West and is located on the Western side of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.
What differentiates Truluck’s from other seafood restaurants?
We’re a privately held non-conglomerate, with the same two owners since Day One. No private equity or investor funding of any kind here.
We make choices that honor the plate, the palate, and the planet. We practice TRU Sustainability, by maintaining an unwavering commitment to serving the highest-quality sustainable seafood. We will never serve endangered, overfished species, and we always follow Ocean Conservancy guidelines. The origin of our fish is always specified on the menu.
Our Florida Stone Crab is captured by our team of professional crabbers, and our produce is sourced from local growers whenever possible. We are dedicated to serving sustainable caught seafood and this includes our stone crab claws and our prime king crab legs… two of the best tasting crustaceans to swim in the ocean.
I am guessing you have a favorite wine pairing for Stone Crab?
Stone Crab and White burgundy is a match made in heaven… particularly a 1er-Cru Chassagne-Montrachet. Of course there are some great Burgundian Chardonnay examples from California too.
Do you have other favorite seafood & wine pairings on your menu?
Yes! Oysters and great Sauvignon Blanc, like a Grand Cru Bordeaux Blanc.
How do you pick your wines?
I like to taste them first. Then a multitude of factors come into play after I have qualified the wine for the list. Value… Branding… Our vendor relationship… Availability… Sale-ability…
What kind of wine education program do you offer your staff?
We have a multifold approach. Weekly tastings and education at pre-shift. Twenty or so videos on wine to be watched in the months after hire. Also, monthly classes with larger tastings and focused subject matter.
Do you have a Coravin program?
Absolutely! We are dedicated to pouring around 75 wines by the glass and Coravin is a big part of this.
What wines/wine varietals sell best for you?
Well Sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are all the top sellers by the glass, and Cabernet Sauvignon is king by the bottle.
Which still always surprises me. That so many people love their Cabernet Sauvignon with everything, even Oysters and Stone Crab and that doesn’t ever seem to evolve. But how has Truluck’s evolved over the years?
We have evolved immensely, particularly in our focus on sustainability and our incessant drive to add small beautiful touches to enhance customers dining experiences.
If you had to describe Truluck's in one word or phrase what would it be?
We are here to make good things happen for other people.
That takes on new meaning now. What is Truluck’s doing in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Truluck’s focus has been on safety first. Every employee is health checked, masked, gloved, and trained to avoid all possible cross contamination. We’ve even added glass partitions between our booths. We want to have our staff and our customers feel safe.
On the beverage side, we developed an aggressive curbside wine and cocktail program, that is really fun with some amazing deals! How about picking up a Merryvale Chardonnay for $37 with some stone crab claws curbside?
Sounds pretty fabulous to us!