TIFTON — Just a few weeks since the grand opening of Tift Tap House in downtown Tifton, the area is abuzz with talk of the new restaurant.
Owner Michelle Green said the response to the new restaurant has been “overwhelming” in the weeks since it opened.
And rightly so. The restaurant offers an atmosphere and menu that is hard to find in the area.
Although there is a big-screen TV in the patio area, the interior of the restaurant does not feature a single TV.
“The most feedback I’ve gotten is (people saying) thank you for not putting TVs in here,” Green said. “That’s something that I felt very strongly about is not having TVs. We do definitely want to appeal to everybody, but in here, we want people just to enjoy each other.”
The restaurant’s menu is unique as well, with twists on traditional poppers and potato “boxtys,” which Green said she got from when she lived in Tampa.
“The menu comes from my past years of traveling,” the restaurateur said. “For example, the potato balls, the boxtys. I used to live in Tampa, so they had these Cuban potato balls with meat inside. I loved the concept.
“So coming here, we’re not a Cuban place, but (I thought) how could I make that Tifton? And I thought we could stuff it with cheese and make it loaded and have a little bit of Reuben for people that love the Reuben. A lot of the menu items are things that I’ve either traveled to see, and I’ve tweaked them and brought them back, just with a Tifton spin. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback because of that.”
Craft beers from Georgia breweries are arriving at Tift Tap House every few weeks, until there are a total of 41 of the best craft beers from around the state on draft with others in bottles and cans as well.
In addition to the tap bar, the restaurant also features a premium spirits and cigar bar, which Green said people have responded well to.
“We have 14 (varieties of cigars), and some of them I bought two boxes of,” Green said. “I’ve already cleared out the first box (of one variety) and am working on the second box. I’m about to have to order some more cigars. People are coming and smoking, asking to take a few to go home. That’s picking up a lot actually.”
The idea of opening a restaurant has been a long-time dream of Green’s and her wife, Jackie. That dream has now stretched on for more than two decades. After years of eating out at other restaurants in the Tifton area, the two realized that it was missing a laid-back but still upper-class hangout.
They dreamed of opening a place that would appeal to upper-middle-class and middle-aged people, that would be “low-key” with soft music and no loud, blaring TVs.
And just a few weeks into having the restaurant open, Green said that the feedback from patrons, or “friends” as she and the staff (or “family”) refer to them, has shown that they have done just that.
“Everybody just wants to come and hang out,” Green said. “Some people will be here three or four hours. We love it; that’s what we wanted, a place to give people a home away from home where they could just enjoy talking to other people. That’s what I wanted the whole time, is for people to come and just be social and get together.
“We want people just to enjoy each other because it seems like this day and time, that’s what people are forgetting. They stay on social media, they get on their phones, and you forget to take time out with the person or party that you’re with. We’re trying to encourage that more.”
And while Green has been able to see this long-time dream of theirs come true, she said it still doesn’t feel completely real just yet.
“It’s very surreal,” she said. “Some nights I get home, it will be 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, and I think, ‘Did that just happen?’ To me, it’s this dream of a restaurant, but I don’t know the magnitude of it yet, I don’t think.”