Gates debuts new look, menu
NEW CANAAN — The word above the entryway is superfluous. One look at the black cast iron gate standing sentry on Forest Street and you know where you are.
The name is the same, and as of last week, the new Gates, which co-owner Paul Tully calls a New Canaan “institution,” is reopened for business.
Renovation on the restaurant, which closed last April, began in August with a plan to capture the same spirit that earned Gates its dedicated following in a redesigned space.
“Gates was that kind of neighborhood family place where you could have a birthday dinner or bring your parents if they were in town,” Tully said. “We wanted to create a warm, friendly environment conducive to having a good time.”
The bright colors and tile floors of the former Gates were removed. In their place, co-owners Tully and Jay Luther, with the help of New Canaan-based design firm Company K, opted for more intimate lighting, new surfaces and exposed brick lining the walls.
“People love the design. Everyone I think is a little surprised when they come in,” Tully said.
Behind the scenes, the kitchen was expanded to make room for new equipment, including a brick pizza oven, an Argentine grill with a rotisserie component and a smoker.
Tully characterizes the restaurant as an American grill, and early versions of the menu are reflective of that. According to Tully, they specialize in standards such as steaks and ribs, but all the classics from the old menu are available.
“Gates still has a lot of friendly food, between burgers and salads. But we’re bringing in new ingredients,” said Tully. “There’s a wide range for someone to choose from.”
At the moment, Gates is open only for dinner. Tully said it was a point of emphasis that the servers, hostesses and bartenders were properly trained and that the kitchen staff had their feet beneath them before being inundated with customers. But Tully anticipates expanding the hours for lunch and a Sunday brunch.
“When we opened we wanted to control the environment. That allows us to give the customer the best we can,” he said.
The reasons, Tully said, are a sense of responsibility he feels toward his community. He has lived in New Canaan for 15 years, and aspires for the same success and longevity synonymous with the Gates name.
“Living in town is not something I take lightly. Gates was an institution for 36 years,” Tully said. “We’d love it to be an institution for another 36 years.”