RICHMOND, Va. — It’s hard to say goodbye.
Chef Lee Gregory is leaving the Roosevelt, the Richmond restaurant he co-owned, after eight years leading the Church Hill kitchen.
Gregory, who recently opened Alewife just down E Marshall Street, racked up a great number of awards while in the kitchen including three times nominated for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation. Plate magazine named him one of the “30 Chefs to Watch,” while Southern Living named The Roosevelt one of the 100 Best Restaurants in the South.
The move is bittersweet for Gregory who plans on focusing on his other two spots, Alewife and the award-winning Southbound which opened in 2015.
“It’s pretty remarkable that stuff [accolades] happened, opening a little restaurant in the corner of Church Hill. It’s a testament to how far Richmond dining has come — how approachable in Church Hill is. I’d like to think we were a little piece of what is happening in the rise of Richmond food. I am proud of being a part of the natural aura of how things change. That change maybe — without the Roosevelt, there’d be no Dutch & Company or Metzger and without those no Brenner Pass, maybe — everything a chain reaction,” Gregory said.
On leaving the Roosevelt, Gregory lamented about friendships and time.
“I’ll miss the staff 100 percent, even just seeing the space everyday — it really was a home away from home. Even though I wasn’t there every night, I was there everyday. It was my routine. It definitely will be weird, “ he said.
Alewife, Gregory’s new place, is focused on Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake seafood and sustainability. The restaurant plans on doing more special events with guest chefs to donate money back to the Rice Center and Chesapeake Bay foundation.
“We are figuring out our day-to-day life there, serving food that is approachable and not scary. And also delicious,” Gregory said.
On the menu currently at Alewife are Calabash fried crab claws, a fried local oyster po’ boy and Wagyu grilled steak.
Gregory left the Roosevelt in the end of the October.
Matt Kirwan, previously of Shaved Duck in Chesterfield and Rogue in Jackson Ward, is the new chef at the Roosevelt.