We talked to: Tellus & the Satellite Bar
Could you give us some more information about and a general overview of Tellus & the Satellite Bar? What made you choose Northampton and Thornes as a location for this new business?
We all brainstormed restaurant names as though we were starting a band or having a baby. Tellus, literally, is the Roman Goddess of the Earth, protectress of marriage, fertility, and the dead. In conjunction with The Satellite Bar, there’s definitely some “Earth and Moon bodies in space sharing the same orbit” implications, and we can’t say there weren’t seriously Speakeasy Vibes when we say Tellus, but most importantly it’s an allusion to the ongoing dialogue that guests and restaurant share together. In creating the menu, it took some time for us to fully realize that there are really no rules–there’s essentially DNA from so many things. We like to say we are representing a pizzeria, Publick House, and a bar that moonlights as a part-time nightclub.
Jeremy: Through some of our commiserating over drinks in bars and shared dinners, we also found this common thread of the desire to rebound and recover within our industry. Not to mention, find joy in it again and continue to grow and change. We love what we do, and we all respect each other. We are passionate about food—talking about it and cooking it— and we align socially and professionally.
Amanda: We want to create an environment in which there is not just one set of rules. We hope to make people feel comfortable and feed them well, as they enjoy connecting with friends and family again. We see the menu evolving, depending on what people like, what’s available seasonally, and our own creativity. We feel like through cocktails, wine, food, and nightlife, we can bring people together and remind them how much fun the experience of dining out can be. Thornes has been such a special place for me, and being a part of the building’s community is something we’re all looking forward to. So far, everyone has been incredibly supportive, welcoming, and excited for us to open.
Nhan: I grew up coming to Northampton. It was the closest place you could see a show, pay too much for coffee, get ice cream, and just kind of walk around with your friends because you really didn’t have anything else to do and you could feel a little more grown-up than you really were. Now that I've spent the last 13 years putting on shows, promoting, serving, cooking, and bartending, this city has definitely gotten under my skin. But honestly, there’s no place I’d rather be.
What are some challenges you endured, and what are some positive things that you’ve learned/that have come out of the past two years?
J: A lot of positive things have come from what we’ve learned in the past couple of years. Not crazy shining things, but things that we see changing within our industry that needed to be changed well before the pandemic. There’s a better sense and awareness of a healthy work-life balance, better living wages, and new opportunities. Things have started to change, and it’s a good time to rebuild, interact with the community, and really understand what they are looking for and need right now. We are lucky to be able to do this, and offer some comfort post-Covid as a team of people who are passionate about our work.
A: To be honest, I was getting ready to leave this industry right before Covid. But over the past two years, everything has been reframed for me and I have realized that I don’t want to do anything else. Where else would I get to live like this, to interact like this? Yes, restaurants are brutally hard to run, but we’re all having a hard time. We’ve all been through a pandemic together, and now it’s time to regroup. We want to have an ongoing conversation with the community—hence our name, Tellus. Because Tellus is about what connects us.
N: I believe uncertainty is at the heart of all fear. We just didn’t know how and when this was all going to end, and regaining public confidence in this industry and with each other was something we all had to face. Everyone knows a place that has closed. Everyone has lost something they love. For a time, it felt like our way of life was on trial, but in the end, it’s a gift that we can all be back together.
As business owners, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
A: I swim laps, which helps in a lot of ways. Movement is very important to me, and helps keep me balanced, focused, and sane. And Pilates has literally helped keep my body from falling apart. I love listening to Broadway music—it’s been a passion of mine for many years. I also love to unwind while drinking wine, and not discuss it in-depth at all times.
J: I really enjoy continuing my work-related education, and the relaxing aspect of that is finding myself reconnecting with nature. It goes back to my original concept of Homestead.: always connecting and nourishing relationships with local farms, creating direct relationships with their products. During the pandemic, I had a bit more time to get back to local foraging, and continuing that activity has been important for me. It’s amazing how much we remember that we are human and don't have to be stuck inside 60 hours a week.
N: My Dalmation Gizmo, coffee, and punk rock.
Do you have an opening date yet, or are you playing things a bit by ear right now?
We are hoping for July, but as you know, licensing takes time, and we’re at the mercy of that. Let’s just say this: we’ll open as soon as we can!
Do you have any events planned, other than the opening, for the restaurant and bar? Could you share some menu items/cocktails you are most excited about?
N: We will have a fully-developed cocktail program that will include: aperitifs and spritzes, classics and modern classics, house favorites and seasonal drinks, and a “secret”/industry menu. We want to be an event space after service on Fridays and Saturdays. I used to run The Basement and giving a home to the people that made that place is something I would love to do as much as anything else. If you were fans of Wooly Bully, usually called Motown Night, or Sugar Biscuit: Queer Rave, or Temperature, and ‘80s and ‘90s Dance Nights, I think you’ll be excited.
J: Regarding the menu, we’re using “modern comfort food” as more of an open-ended statement. It’s really going to be a little bit of everything, including craft brick-oven pizza, which will highlight local ingredients, a few different textures/types of dough, including a 48-hour fermented sourdough. As far as toppings go, we’re trying to mix it up with a Hawaiian style pizza, featuring a house-cured pork belly, some Mortadella, and pineapple chutney. We’re playing around with some other super flavorful items, including a Nashville/Korean Hot Chicken and a house-ground brisket/chuck/short rib smashburger. We also plan to offer a green salad, and various other veggie-focused items that will feature locally-sourced ingredients. It’s fun to play around with flavors and styles, and I’m very excited to work with a great team and two great partners.
A: I am looking forward to offering wines that people enjoy drinking; the wine menu does not have to be fancy or upscale to be good. I want people to come in and not feel intimidated or silly for asking for assistance—I’m here to help them figure out what they will like best. I really don’t care if you are drinking something that’s $8 a glass or $25. It's about whether or not you are happy with what's in your glass, and I am here to work with you to find that.
“Come find us when we open–we can’t wait to see you!”
In closing, we are excited to inject some joy back into restaurants. We feel lucky to have a great team that is ready to bring some life back to the act of dining out, socializing, enjoying events, and just eating delicious food in a comfortable environment. We want people to know they can “come as they are”, have some great conversations with us and with their dining companions, and that we will continue to grow and evolve—we can’t wait to receive feedback from the community regarding what is working and what they might like to see and taste.