Gracie’s & Ellie’s: A Year In Review | Stephen Willson
People are saying 2016 will be remembered as one of the worst years in history. Exaggeration and negativity have become so common in our everyday conversation. We, as a whole, have taken to boasting about tragedy and misfortunes, rather than celebrations and solutions. As this year comes to a close, we, the Gracie’s and Ellie’s teams, wish to take a moment to reflect upon the reasons 2016 has been a most prosperous year.
Our staff has grown in size, in knowledge, and in our passion for what we do. Personal goals were achieved and new goals have been set. Gracie’s was awarded the AAA 4-Diamond award for the 5th year in a row. Standards were raised, expectations were exceeded, and countless fond memories were created.
Gracie’s team members Alan Freudeman and John Cappiello passed their Certified Sommelier exams for The Court of Master Sommeliers. This is such a huge accomplishment for their personal growth but also for what that does for our team. Having two certified sommeliers on our team means better training for our service staff and an environment in which our teammates are pushed to take their careers and knowledge to the next level. It also means a better experience for our guests, and a wine list scattered with hidden gems that offer variety and value, as well as heavy hitting standards and classics. Let us turn you onto a new wine, food pairing, or wine producing region.
Our bar team won first place in the Providence Bartender Olympics. Sam Royds, our brilliantly boozy bartender, took over the cocktail program when she was promoted to Lead Bartender this past Fall. She brings to the table, a wealth of knowledge, stories about cocktail culture and bar life, and an arsenal of cocktails to keep you coming back for more.
Chef Matthew Varga was awarded Chef of the Year by the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. He also spent 2 weeks in October cruising through Europe with a group of Gracie’s fans. Sous Chefs Eric Brown and Peter Kachmarsky have played a huge role in shaping our kitchen team. They have grown as leaders and mentors. They keep our standards high, our product consistent, they bridge the gap between service staff and kitchen staff, and they bring brilliantly delicious inspirations to our menu. Chef Melissa Denmark was the 2016 Local Hero Winner by Edible Rhody.
We hosted dinners with winemakers, farmers, friends, and fellow chefs. New relationships were cultivated, and old ones were strengthened and nurtured. Our Star Chef series brought a lot of familiar faces back into the Gracie’s kitchen. Chefs Maria Sinskey, Evan Mallett, and Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, brought their love and passion back into the kitchen as they have for so many years.
Love was certainly in the air in 2016. Weddings were plentiful! We created wedding magic, not only in our own dining room, but at many different off-site locations as well. We packed up our team and took this great show on the road to historic mansions, farms, private homes, and various other locations to bring the magic of Gracie’s far beyond the walls of our dining room. Our own Executive Pastry Chef, Melissa Denmark married the love of her life, Jordan Goldsmith, and Gracie’s was there to feed their guests and celebrate their love.
Ellie’s welcomed a new assistant manager, Miss Alyssa Jerrell, to the team. Her leadership and knowledge has helped strengthen both the Ellie’s and Gracie’s service teams. Kristi Dukoff, a familiar face as Gracie’s Bar Manager, was promoted to Ellie’s Catering and Events Manager. She shines in her new role just as brightly as when she was behind the bar.
Ellie’s has expanded over the past year and we are so thrilled to be a part of her success. Her growth has brought about the need for a bigger kitchen to fill all of our orders. Keeping up with the demand for delicious pastries, breads, and beautiful cakes, meant Ellie’s had to move a large percentage of her production to Hope & Main in Warren, RI. This larger space allows us to keep up with the ever growing demand for all things Ellie’s.
We were there to help people celebrate graduations, 50th wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and countless other special occasions. People got engaged in our wine room. Children got to meet the cast of The Nutcracker over scones and jam. Our loved ones at ReFocus celebrated Thanksgiving with us. We teamed up with The Little Clay Studio, ReFocus’ pottery program, and now we serve our food on beautiful plates, hand made, locally, by these very special artists.
All in all, 2016 was a year of growth and accomplishment. We pushed ourselves to achieve more, do better, and expand the realm of possibility far beyond what we thought we were capable of doing. We pushed boundaries, overcame challenges, and came out much stronger than when we started. 2016 will be remembered as a year of growth, love, and celebration.
Thank you for letting us into your lives. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to shine and celebrate what we love to do. We want to be your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We want to make your morning coffee as special as we possibly can; just like we do with your birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. Thank you for allowing us to dream big, shine bright, and share our passion with you. Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017!