You’ll spy them hurrying around the restaurant making sure everything is just so. Their influence is everywhere, from the recent entryway renovations to your swoon-worthy dessert. We’re happy they’re here—otherwise we wouldn’t be here! They’re our owners, Ann and Dan Kolenick.
We slowed Ann and Dan down from their incredibly hectic day running The Gables at Chadds Ford—did we mention they have little kids?—to give you an insider’s peek into the life of a restaurant owner.
Break it down for us: who does what at the restaurant?
Ann is front of the house and Dan is back of the house.
Why did you buy The Gables at Chadds Ford?
Because it was beautiful, rustic, unique and had so much potential. The outdoor patio was great and we could see a lot of potential for weddings and other special events up in the event space.
Why did you buy your first restaurant, McCurdy’s?
Dan’s parents moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania back in 1998. In 2006, the same year Ann graduated from culinary school, Dan’s mother passed away. Ann’s father, who is a very good businessman, talked to us about buying a restaurant. At the time, Dan was a private investigator and Ann was working in a restaurant—we’d never thought about buying a restaurant!
We originally looked for restaurants in Pennsylvania, and then a family friend told us about a seafood restaurant for sale in Atlantic Beach, NC. Dan’s father was in North Carolina on his own, so we figured, why not move down there to be with him? Then everything somehow fell into place: with the support of Ann’s parents and Dan’s father we bought a beautiful restaurant on the water in Atlantic Beach!
What made you buy a second restaurant?
We really wanted to move back to Pennsylvania once we had our daughter Lucy. It’s where more of our family is, and it’s home for us.
What’s your favorite part about being restaurant owners?
We love to make people happy, and serving them good food and good drinks in a comfortable atmosphere is a great way to do just that. It’s also challenging to run a restaurant, but over the years we’ve learned a lot and done things that we never thought we could or would do. That’s very rewarding.
What’s the biggest challenge?
One of the biggest challenges is finding the right team. We’ve come a long way in five years and have overcome a lot of obstacles, but it’s been worth it to have the staff we have now. We found there are so many different personalities, attitudes, work experience, strengths and weaknesses, etc. … it’s a challenge to take all of that and turn it into staff members who work well together as a team. But we think we’ve nailed it!
How do you manage with two little kids?
It’s certainly hectic having two restaurants and two kids—it’s hard to remember sometimes how we’ve made it work. It has become much easier now that Lucy, 6, and Charlie, 4, are both in school full-time.
Where did you two meet?
University of South Carolina … in a bar!
What do you do in your spare time?
We definitely don’t have a lot of spare time, but we mostly love being at our house and spending time with Lucy, Charlie and our three sweet puppies.
Ann, as a someone with a degree in pastry arts, what’s your favorite food?
Dark chocolate and most any kind of cheese.
And your least favorite food?
If you didn’t own restaurants, what would you be doing?
Ann would be making wedding cakes (she holds a degree in pastry arts from the Restaurant School), and Dan might be investigating again (he’s a licensed private investigator).
Stop by The Gables at Chadds Ford soon, and make sure to say hello to Ann, Dan and maybe even Lucy and Charlie! It’s a family affair at our restaurant, and we’re proud to welcome you and yours.
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.