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Taylor's refreshes its name

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Duncan Gott
Taylor’s Refresher co-owner Duncan Gott stands under the Taylor’s sign, which will soon be replaced to reflect the business’s new name: Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. Jesse Duarte photo

Care for some burgers from Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet?

That’s the new name for the popular hangouts in St. Helena, Napa and San Francisco formerly known as Taylor’s  Refresher.

Co-owner Duncan Gott said the new name, which was chosen from a list of hundreds, was required by a legal matter and picked because of its nice play on words: in French, “tres gourmet” translates to “very gourmet.”

“But ‘tray’ is the way we serve our food,” Gott said. “So it’s a cute name.”

Gott said that after operating as Taylor’s Automatic Refresher for 10 years, he and his brother Joel “ran into some legal issues with the name.”

“We didn’t invent the name, so we can’t say that every single aspect of this business was 100 percent invented by us,” Gott said. “So now with the new name, all aspects of the business were created or developed by us from scratch.”

Gott is confident that as time passes he will feel proud that the business carries the family name. “I know my kids are pretty fired up about it,” he said.

As for detracting from the brand that Taylor’s has built, Gott admitted, “there’s a chance that could happen. But I’m more excited about the new graphics and signs and menu layout we’ll have.” 

Taylor’s Refresher opened in St. Helena in 1949. Decades later — no one is really sure when — the business went belly-up. When the site came up for lease in 1999, Duncan Gott and his brother, Joel Gott, took it over. In September of that year, they unveiled Taylor’s Refresher, a drastically retooled “gourmet drive-in.”

Building on the success of the St. Helena business, the brothers opened two similar restaurants, first in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and then at Oxbow Market in Napa.

The lettering on top of the St. Helena restaurant was changed Wednesday. It could take a month or two to build a new roadside sign, but in the meantime the old sign will be covered with the message, “same owners, same food, new name,” Gott said.

There will also be a remodeled Web site, www.gottsroadside.com.

While the name change points toward the future, a recent personnel move represents a return to the past. Rick Robinson, who briefly served as chef when the Gotts took over Taylor’s in 1999, has rejoined the business as executive chef.

“He was here the first day, and he helped us build a lot of our menu,” Gott said. “We’re excited to have him on board again. We got him to move back from North Carolina.”

To celebrate the name change, there will be parties at all three Taylor’s — er, Gott’s — locations, featuring free cheeseburgers, ahi burgers, Seoul burgers and fries. The party is set for 6-8 p.m. Friday at the St. Helena and Napa restaurants. The party in San Francisco was Thursday.

Gott encouraged people to bring their family and friends on Friday to get accustomed to the new name and enjoy the free food — the Seoul burger is a new item that’s a combination between the New York kimchi burger and a pulled pork sandwich.

“We also have a new secret dessert we’re going to bust out,” Gott said. “And it’s all free, so there ought to be quite a crowd.”

 

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