Local Businesses and COVID-19: Gates

For today’s Q&A with a local business owner, we hear from Jay Luther of Gates. The Forest Street mainstay is now open for indoor as well as outdoor dining. Here’s our interview. New Canaanite: Gates, and other local restaurants, had been compelled for months to offer food on a pickup or delivery basis only, and now we are seeing those restrictions start to lift in phases. What has this all been like for you at Gates and how are you faring? 

Jay Luther: We’ve been blessed with support from everyone – our customers, the Chamber, landlord and vendors. We’re all in this together and the support has been remarkable. Chef Luis [Lopez] worked over 70 days straight and carried us through curbside pickup and delivery to bring food to New Canaan families as well as our local first responder heroes.

‘Come Home to Gates’: Chef Luis Lopez Returns to New Canaan

A favorite chef among local diners, Luis Lopez, on Monday returned to New Canaan to start his new job running the kitchen at Gates. Formerly of his popular ‘Chef Luis’ restaurant on Elm Street—which changed names and hands following his departure more than one year ago, and finally closed—Lopez said he is “thankful for the opportunity.” “I feel like I never left. All my customers and friends came to see me when I went to Ridgefield,” Lopez said, referring to his most recent position. “New Canaan is my home.”

Asked how he felt about cheffing at Gates, Lopez said, “I am excited.

‘The Vibe Is Awesome’: Gates Reopens

Some 10 months after closing its doors for the first time since launching in 1979, Gates restaurant is re-opening this week under new ownership, with a fresh look and menu. Though no formal word went out about it, New Canaanites descended on the Forest Street institution for a hopping bar scene Monday night, while an invite-only dining crowd filled the newly configured main floor at Gates—complete with a food bar overlooking a wood-fired oven and open kitchen. The bar now will be open nightly, while the restaurant is on track to open for dinner service this weekend (by reservation only), according to Jay Luther, an owner of Gates with fellow town resident Paul Tully. It isn’t clear yet just when Gates will open for lunch—stay tuned. “It’s fantastic,” Luther said of the long-awaited re-opening.

Interior Demo of Gates Underway; Mid-Fall Reopening Planned

Gates Interior Demolition August 2015
Interior demolition of the former Gates is in full swing and the New Canaan mainstay’s new owners say it’s on track to reopen mid-fall with an updated look, layout and menu. New Canaanites Jay Luther and Paul Tully, partners in the venture whereby Gates was purchased in April with an eye on reopening with the same name, say locals are excited about planned changes that include a new food bar in the main dining room that looks into an open kitchen with a wood-fired oven, smoker and wood-fired grill. “We are almost as excited as they are to get this open and to reestablish Gates as a go-to place in New Canaan, appealing to a broad base of people,” Tully said on Friday morning, hammer in hand as he joined demolition workers in removing sheetrock to expose the industrial brick inside the restaurant. “Families. Couples.

New Owner of Gates on Plan for Restaurant: ‘Best of the Old and Best of the New’

The “new” Gates will offer classic and new American food, featuring a wood-fired oven and rotisserie as well as an open kitchen, with the overarching goal of restoring the iconic downtown restaurant to its place as the go-to family destination in New Canaan, the business’s new owner said. The restaurant will undergo extensive interior renovation through this summer with an eye on opening in early September, though the “basic locations of everything in restaurant are going to remain the same—they’re just going to get updated,” said Jay Luther, a town resident since 2003. “My objective is to keep it as Gates, it’s a great name—it has a lot of history and lot of awareness—and to contemporize the concept a bit,” Luther said. “Our objective is to create a cool environment that is very welcoming and that is contemporary—the best of the old and best of the new.”

Scores of current and former New Canaanites were reeling with the news last week that Gates, a Forest Street fixture since 1979, had been sold and would close. Owners Billy Auer and Jeb Swift thanked the community for its support as they moved toward their own retirement, and the Gates bar and restaurant were packed on a final night this past Sunday.