Greystones is making a magnificent comeback

February 5, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield 

“It was terrifying at first,” admitted Jennifer Dattels, owner of the 1850’s stone building, the first hospitality building in Orangeville – Greystones. 

She was reflecting back on the early days of intensive renovations that took place within the nearly 170-year-old building, which has been called a number of different names since it was constructed.

But no matter what it was called, it served only one purpose: to offer hospitality. In the early days of these past three years, Ms. Dattels had ordered the foundations to be restored and refurbished at Greystones. The work gave every frightening appearance that this fine heritage structure was being taken down.

“I bought Steakhouse 63, three years ago; that’s how long it’s taken for all the paper work with the Heritage department and planning permission with the Town and, then, all the work on the building, but we’re nearly there,” said Dattels.

When Greystones does open, she told the Citizen, the last thing they want is for it to be a “special occasion only” restaurant.

“We want people to feel they can come anytime – for a pizza and a glass of wine,” said Dattles. “Steak is expensive, which is why we don’t want to be a steakhouse [and] why we brought back the name Greystones, where the menu will be contemporary and local as much as possible.”

It was not unexpected that she might assure us, “the food will be really, really exceptional. I adore food,” she confessed. “All types of food. I grew up in Montreal. My mother was a wonderful cook and so was my father and we went to many fabulous restaurants,” admitting, “I always look at the dessert menu first, so I know if I should save room.”

“We like to travel. So, I’ve experienced dining in many great restaurants.”

The revived Greystones is now secure in a perfect partnership of Jennifer Dattels, the somewhat visionary owner of Greystones, British born and trained, Keith Froggett, and his son, Benn, who owns the famed Scaramouch Restaurant in Toronto as well as the Glen Tavern in Glen Williams.

Their connecting was somewhat serendipitous: Dattels explained that the partnership originated when their “very good friend, Joe Mimran,” a regular patron of Scaramouch, in Toronto, happened to hear us mention that we were looking for partners in this renewed restaurant. The owners of Scaramouch, Keith Froggett and his son, Benn, were, equally, looking for something in the area. They came to explore what was happening. 

Benn Froggett, in an earlier interview with the Citizen, had provided the story from their point of view. The delight of this connection was echoed: “Orangeville is a community that I like very much. We have family here and we live in Caledon.

“Jennifer approached us a year ago about the project,” he told the Citizen. “We have similar standards in a casual atmosphere, great quality cooking, welcoming everyone. We’re really looking forward to getting to know the community. We’re hoping to be a destination restaurant, one of the reasons people come to Orangeville.”

The Greystone menu is to be based on, “Seasonal contemporary cuisine,” with the explanation, “You can’t define what we are. There are influences from all over the world on our menu. Only high quality ingredients, cooked with respect. We’ll be making all our own pastas and pizza. Canadian halibut is another favourite on our menu.”

Froggett said Greystones focus is on quality ingredients and, in the summer, all their vegetables will be locally grown.

He later elaborated about the renovated interior of Greystones:

“There’s the restaurant, the lounge, dining room, nice private dining for 10 and upstairs, there’s a room for 50. Everything will be fun and delicious. We want people to come and have a great time and enjoy great food.” 

There was no threat of a pandemic three years ago, when work to restore the restaurant first begun. The result of the renovations is a beautiful restaurant, ready to serve. 

Greystone’s partners had planned and hoped to be able to open up for in-person dining on Feb. 9. However, this was not to be. 

Mr. Froggett commented, with the news that they will be open to serve take out only, which began this week, on February 2. 

“It might seem weird to open in COVID but we’re planning to be around for a long time. It will be warm and welcoming. Not ‘fine dining.’ There are beautiful tables – it would be a shame to put table cloths on them,” he said.

“This is for the long term but we’ll have to just suck up the pain and do the best we can,” adding, “After all, this is not a new restaurant – we’re just new management.” 

In our conversation with Jennifer Dattels, she remarked, “We’ll offer takeout on Feb. 2. It’s not how you hope to introduce yourself to the community but it’s something. We’re just not able to invite people inside. So, we’ll do what we’re able to do to get to know you. 

“This restaurant is very much the model of the Glen Tavern – really great food at reasonable prices; not that high end. There will be wonderful soups on the menus. As we learn more about what the community wants, this is a further complement to Orangeville as a culinary destination. People can come up from Toronto for lunch.”

Her plan to deal with the way things are, “COVID affected the construction but, now, here we are, ready to open our doors and people can’t come in. We will open as soon as we can let people into the restaurant. When we can let 10 people through in, we will definitely do that. Things will improve,” she was sure. “We’re looking to the future – we finished our work – and we’re ready to go.”

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