The Definition of Premium Casual Dining
Moxie’s is that one restaurant many others are required to compete with. When a privately-owned restaurant attempts to emulate a premium casual dining atmosphere, it’s Moxie’s they are attempting to replicate. It’s the gold standard, one I patronize frequently to remind myself of what those standards are. I ignore its corporate roots despite said roots tracking back to a Canadian family from Kamloops.
Moxie’s succeeds in the same way Jackie Chan succeeds. Chan is so unrelenting in his desire to entertain that he will jeopardize his own well-being to achieve those goals. However, he also simultaneously avoids imitating other styles as well as not work too far away from his established comfort zone. He knows what he does well and does it better than any other. He’s not pretentious. Using another metaphor, this time with Greek mythology, Moxie’s takes the role of a deity atop Mt. Olympus, secure in its position while others climb and fall in Sisyphean futility.
I ate street tacos the last time I was there, by the way.
Moxie's greatest strength is its ability to present itself without posturing, to tackle several types of cuisine without conflict or compromise. This is harder than it looks; competition tries to outshine by adding spurious names or jumbled cuisine, or worse, by slamming different aesthetic styles into a confusing refectory. Our local Prince George Moxies—as one cannot lump them all into any singular general evaluation—separates its lounge and its dining area, with soft music and generous spacing in one, and hanging televisions and bar stools in the other. You walk into Moxie’s, and you get to choose.
Moxie's balances itself perfectly. The menu options avoid trendy though annoying names. They are easy to read and decipher. The staff is friendly and modestly attired. Their success is due partially to a streamlined and competent business model, but personally, I believe the rise or fall of any restaurant, regardless if it’s private, franchised, or corporate, lies with its manager, Rick Devore, and its culinary leader, Brian Krahn, both veterans of the industry. Even though Rick’s restaurant donates to many charitable causes, at the end of the day, a restaurant rises or falls on its defining trade. On that, Moxies earns its seal.
Moxie’s is also one of the few franchised/corporate restaurants where most everything is made in house and with fresh ingredients and not trucked in giant vats from an offsite warehouse. It’s that corporate substructure within Moxie’s that makes it nearly impossible for local places to compete at that level. I’ve often said private restaurants need to focus on specific cuisines or styles and not try to be a simulacrum of proven names like Moxie’s because, without that national foundation, it’s impossible to compete. Somewhere, red seal professional chefs test and perfect recipes that are then passed down to the local restaurants, while also permitting regional distinctiveness in the form of certain dishes and wine options.
It’s hard to find fault with Moxie's given how polished and sharpened it is. Even ethnic variations like the sushi cones I enjoyed one day were shockingly well made, followed only minutes later by those street tacos served in an authentic plastic bowl over a foil wrap. It works. As it was Sunday the day we ordered, we also took advantage of the brunch menu served weekends 10 – 2. We’ll also be back Mondays for wing night. Moxie's is that reliable option when a group of people want to decide where to go. It’s got something for everyone.