On Christmas Eve 2020, Damien Georges took a leap of faith, despite the COVID pandemic, and opened the Fourteen Railroad Restaurant in downtown Warwick. After a year and a half serving dishes ranging from tapas to pizza to tomahawk steak and rabbit, George is making a name for himself and preparing to open his next door place.
Progress is slow, given the state of supply chains at present, but George plans to open the doors to the Asian-inspired restaurant, simply named Next to 14, around July 11. For the past six weeks, Instagram of Next to 14 has parodied adorable close-ups of bahn mi (ooh) pork, chicken, and duck ramen. Judging from the comments, there will be a line outside the door when it finally opens.
The Asian menu is not a blind arrow thrown on the map by George who was born in Australia, but rather a reflection of his life and travels with his wife. “The main influence of Next to 14 is our life in Japan and our passion for great Asian food,” says George. Growing up below, George’s voice retains a faint Australian accent. He learned food from his father, who owned the French restaurant La Chaumiere in Melbourne for 30 years. George broke away from the restaurant industry to move into the company’s business. Besides owning the two restaurants, he is currently the Senior Vice President of Real Page, a Texas-based software company.
But before all that, George spent a time in Japan teaching English at a school in Sakai, not far from Osaka. There, he met his future wife Lisa, who was also teaching. “We were there for about two years,” he says. “We both fell in love with Japan. Since then, I have traveled a lot for work and spent time in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. They have become my favorite places to try food.” George’s appreciation came out in full color at the restaurant: one wall is covered in a mural from “The Anime Last Supper” by local artist Jordan Chisholm.
The soon-to-open Next to 14 menu reflects George’s love of a wide variety of Asian cuisine. “We include dishes from Korea, China and Vietnam,” says George. The “snack” menu includes the spicy cucumber ($6), Japanese fried chicken, and Korean mac n’ cheese ($10 each). You can order a variety of bao (each $8) to suit current hip tastes: duck confit, pork belly, and oyster mushrooms. Of course, there’s also miso ramen, chicken pho (each $10) and pork ramen ($14). If all that wasn’t mouth-watering enough, there are an additional 22 pieces available to add to gravy or sandwiches. So you can top your order with something as simple as green onions or daikon kimchi ($6 each), a quail egg ($3), some duck ($6), or even beef steak ($6, too).
Yes, the menu certainly attracts high palates, but the bill will not be very high. “It definitely makes sense,” says George. “You can get a regular bowl of ramen noodles for $10. You can also add a lot of stuff and spend $30. I try to keep this restaurant as casual as possible but still deliver amazing flavor and quality.” Reservations will not be accepted next to 14, which is not Hinge is ready, so the 25-seat capacity will likely fill up regularly.
These delicious food creations will be prepared under the careful eye of Derica MacFarlane, a Middletown High School graduate whose chefs include Niamh Patwa (contracted with New York Fashion Week), Goldman Sachs, and James Beard House.
Next to 14 you’ll also have a liquor license, so enjoy sips like Toki Monster (Toki whiskey, sherry, lemon) or Hemingway (dark rum, Luxardo, grapefruit, lemon) with your ramen. For a refreshing drink with or without alcohol, sip on specialized iced tea (add Haku Vodka for $4 extra, or CBD for $2) or Laura Palmer (Tin Rin Jasmine Green Tea, lemon, yuzu, honey, hibiscus). For a tropical vibe, Osaka Dreams comes with jasmine, mango, pineapple and coconut cream. Peyton Bacha would run the bar’s end in the business world, following stints at places like Haven Spa in Rhinebeck and Manhattan gin bar The Winslow.
Staff will be directed by General Manager Dana Green. With the local Bennings name in her family tree, Green will skillfully manage the day after 14, enthusiastic Gorges. This leaves only one question in addition to the obvious, why did George name the restaurant as he did? Look at the Asian written name (ネ ー ー ー ー ー 14) to find out the real reason, says George. “The name ‘beside 14’ is written in katakana – the alphabet the Japanese use to describe anything that isn’t Japanese,” he explains. So ‘next to 14’ is Japanese, which isn’t.
next to 14
ク ス ト ト ー ー 14
12 Railway Street, Warwick