The usual menu at Cafe Rule might be best described as New American with comfort foods that are reimagined through a chef’s eye (see again: the fried chicken, which is available regular or Nashville hot and served with brown butter corn and herb-mashed potatoes). At the same time, Cafe Rule’s selection of dishes also includes those that have long been mainstays in bigger cities but may be less familiar in small-town environments, like the Sweet & Spicy Thai Chili Calamari and the Roasted Acorn Squash with grilled parma prosciutto, fried sage, goat cheese, and local honey.
To adapt for curbside and delivery, the restaurant pared down its offerings a bit, but the menu still comprises nearly three dozen options, ranging from appetizers and salads to handhelds and hearty entrées. Cafe Rule also introduced a family-style Sunday menu with larger platters, pizza, and a la carte options available for pickup or delivery between noon and 4 p.m.
“Even though people can't get together now at church, they still want to have that family experience on Sunday night. We wanted to put together family-style meals that people could take home to a family of six and enjoy a Sunday dinner together,” Nance says.
Cafe Rule in its current incarnation (previously it was Youssef 242 and before that, Café 242), has been open since 2016 and in that time it has always offered to-go options. Last year it began working with DoorDash to capture business in the ever-growing delivery sector. Nance estimates that prior to last week, off-premises business accounted for just over 10 percent of total earnings. Like many full-service restaurants, Cafe Rule hangs its hat on that elevated, in-person dining experience—something that is an asset under normal conditions but a debility amid coronavirus-induced shutdowns.