In our ever-changing city landscape, it is not uncommon to see businesses move and grow over time and this is exactly what is happening for the folks at The Reluctant Chef.
Currently a thriving thirty-five seat restaurant at 281 Duckworth Street, Tony Butt and his team are moving across the street to a beautiful heritage property at 290 Duckworth and although the distance is small, conceptually the restaurant is ready to take a big leap.
Having undergone numerous renovations, the new home of The Reluctant Chef houses a beautiful, hand crafted bar downstairs equipped with a custom designed wine cellar that boasts an intriguing back history. What was once a morgue now showcases beautiful, repurposed wine racks ready to be stocked by sommelier, Scott Cowan. This downstairs area will focus on serving carefully selected wines and small plates in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. The original concept of The Reluctant Chef was to offer nightly, five-course, set menus where the various plates would be selected by the chef and served to the entire restaurant, with some input from the customers on food preferences and allergy restrictions, of course. This same concept will guide service in the upstairs part of the restaurant that seats around sixty. “It’s still a similar concept to what we were doing but in a bigger space. We are going to offer a selection of small plates, as well, that will give the customers more choice” explains Butt. “We also have a private space to host small groups who are interested in happy hour drinks and appetizers.”
After a year in the original restaurant, Tony knew he wanted to expand and he started looking for a larger space. “This move is a significant one for Butt. I’ve never opened a restaurant before” he laughs. “The old place was almost a turn key operation. When I started, I woke up one day and had the idea to open a restaurant. Six days later we were open. I didn’t have time to think about it but this is different. We’re building it up from scratch.”
With plans to open the first week of July, final preparations are being made and, while nervous excitement abounds, Butt is grounded in the realization that he has surrounded himself with a solid team who are ready to take on the challenge of opening a new space. “I want to create a community here and I’m prepared to give my key people a stake in the business so it’s not just my business, it’s our business. It just makes sense to me that in order to get a really good team and a family, they need to be involved.”
In a building so rich in history, stories have long been told of ghosts that reside within the walls. “I certainly hope it’s true” chuckles Tony. “But I can say that there is a warm and welcoming feeling from the moment you walk in the doors of this place.” It is clear that Tony Butt and his team at The Reluctant Chef are ready to create their own story at 290 Duckworth.