Doug Vaira had been waiting for the right time to open a restaurant in downtown Frederick. Surprising to him, that time came during a global pandemic.
“It’s honestly something that has kind of been percolating for, I’d say maybe about seven or eight years. And we fortunately, or unfortunately, happened to find the right spot when the whole pandemic hit,” Vaira said. “But when we found this space, I think it really became clear that this is where we wanted to be.”
Vaira began moving his new restaurant, Truth and Beauty Bar & Kitchen, into the former Doner Bistro on Carroll Creek back in March. He closed his restaurant, Domestic, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, this summer after eight years in service.
Truth and Beauty’s menu is nearly identical to Domestic’s, featuring items such as sweet Thai chili-glazed Brussel sprouts, blackened catfish, spicy Korean wings and pickled deviled eggs. Vaira dubs the menu traditional American fare but with some Southern and Asian twists. He’s reluctant to nail down the food style exactly, however, to avoid locking the restaurant into one particular style.
But he’s sure about one thing.
“We’re never going to call ourselves fine dining or a white table cloth restaurant. That’s just not what we do,” Vaira said. “Our whole thing is basically just trying to make people feel welcome, and we just try to get that vibe across in what we do and what we deliver.”
Truth and Beauty serves lunch and dinner, and has outdoor seating on Carroll Creek in addition to indoor seating and carryout. There is also a full bar.
Getting the restaurant together was a challenge, especially with many state and local offices being closed. But Vaira said that city officials in Frederick made the process as easy as possible, even while working remotely.
“They definitely understood that extra challenge of trying to do this during a pandemic,” Vaira said. “People just made themselves available for phone calls and would respond to emails in the middle of the night. So that was really cool.”
Vaira moved to West Virginia by way of Colorado about 22 years ago, and spent many days off and weekends in Frederick, enjoying the city’s eateries. Opening a restaurant to join the hundreds of others already successful in the county was enticing.
“I’m really looking forward to becoming a part of what is already like a really cool vibrant scene in downtown Frederick,” he said.
One of the things that he’s consistently been impressed by about Frederick is its genuine customer service, and the way he’s felt welcome in bars and restaurants for years.
“And you would think that in this business that would just be innate, that would just be natural, but it’s not,” Vaira said. “And I think even beyond that, there’s such a sense here ... that the restaurants and the businesses all support one another and ... everybody wants downtown Frederick to work.”