New owners revamping Gates for fall relaunch
Published 12:00 am, Friday, August 14, 2015
The new owners of Gates have begun a top-to-bottom makeover of the Forest Street restaurant with an eye to reopening by the middle of the fall.
An interior demolition that started recently stripped bare much of the Sheetrock walls as part of a remodeling and space reconfiguration to make the space more “rustic and family oriented,” said Jay Luther, a restaurateur who partnered with fellow New Canaan resident Paul Tully to purchase the long-running eatery earlier this year.
“The idea is to re-establish Gates as the ultimate family dining establishment in New Canaan,” Luther said. “That’s a concept we can re-establish if we execute well.”
Luther said the 5,400 square-foot restaurant will have a new expanded menu including American favorites and include an open kitchen with wood-fired oven, smoker and grill. The wood-fired grill and smoker will be used to slowcook and roast the restaurant’s meats throughout the day, Luther said.
“It will be American food with all the classics with a contemporary twist,” Luther said. “We’re going to have some creative cooking built around wood-fired preparation that will help expand the offerings.”
Luther, a town resident since 2003 with three children in local schools, teamed up with Tully this spring to buy the restaurant from long-time owners Jeb Swift and Billy Auer, who opened Gates in 1979.
Luther, a partner in Ri Ra, a small chain of Irish pubs spread through the United States, said he and Tully have been happy to hear positive feedback from residents who were eager to see the restaurant’s look and offerings refreshed.
“We were taken aback by the response we got from people when they heard it was going to close down,” Luther said. “We are two guys from town who are going to be here a long time, and we want to create a place that people will be proud of. The type of place that when people visit you want to show it to them.”
An important aspect of the redesign of the space will be to eliminate walls and closed-off spaces in the previous layout, a move Luther thinks will make the space more welcoming to diners. A wraparound food bar will occupy part of the restaurant’s former dining area and be next to an open kitchen keeping the work of the chefs in view of the customers.
The restaurant’s main bar will be in the same location, but the redesign will open a solid brick wall that separated it from the former dining room space.