Gate House of Lewes is a family affairFrench bistro opens in former Café Azafran
Lewes — Restaurants run in the Gates family. Gretchen and Chip Gates have teamed up with their sons Wilson and Taylor to open the Gate House of Lewes.
Located in the former space of Café Azafran on Market Street, the bistro-style restaurant features dishes made with French techniques and worldly ingredients.
“We loved this area and wanted to bring something a little bit different,” said Gretchen.
Gretchen and Chip decided last August to move to Lewes full time. It didn't take long for Chip to figure out Lewes would be a great town to open a family-owned restaurant. So they rounded up their sons Wilson and Taylor and got to work.
The dinner menu was created by Taylor, the younger of the two sons. A graduate of Culinary Institute of America, he had recently worked at renowned New York restaurant Jean-Georges. That experience influenced Taylor's offerings at the Gate House.
“A lot of it is what I fell in love with when I was in New York with Jean-Georges, which is kind of this playful French cuisine that uses a lot of Asian flair but is also open to everything,” he said.
The French techniques are most evident in the sauces, which, Taylor said, is the driving force of the menu.
Taylor admits, though, that the menu has changed thanks to the input of his mother and brother.
“The original writeup was mine, but we've tweaked it from the original writeup a lot to include everyone's input and we've done different things,” he said.
Said Gretchen, “Sometimes people will laugh if they come to the back and take a look at us. We'll all be working on something because if it doesn't come out right, all three of us are huddled over it.”
Some entrees include almond crusted duck breast, spiced pork chop, blackened lamb and dry-aged prime cut. The menu is expected to change seasonally.
A lunch menu is in the works. They plan to begin serving lunch this weekend and will continue offering lunch Friday through Sunday until Memorial Day. A special Mother's Day brunch is planned for May 11.
Like Taylor, Wilson also attended CIA. He worked at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyo., before moving more recently to Ocean City, Md. Gretchen describes Wilson as the one who knows how to run a successful restaurant.
Gretchen herself is also trained in the culinary arts. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, she once owned her own restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz., before relocating to Washington D.C. The whole family is originally from Wilmington.
The Gates family opened the restaurant just over a month after taking over ownership. No major renovation work was required, but many folks are surprised when they walk in, especially when they see the six-seat bar. The bar was always there, but, Gretchen said, Azafran's coffee machines obscured the view, making the bar area look more like a wall. That area has been cleared out to create a more open feel of the restaurant. They also completed other minor changes, such as painting, new fixtures and reupholstery.
“We walked in and knew the ambiance, knew the feel we wanted for the place,” Gretchen said.
The main dining room holds space for 35 people. A covered patio and herb garden area adds 28 additional dining spaces.
The Gate House is open Tuesday through Sunday at 5 p.m. Reservations are accepted 60 days in advance at 302-313-5912. For more information, go to www.thegatehouseoflewes.com.