Heather Morrison, Austin Carson and Ty Leon are getting a new restaurant a little sooner than they expected. The trio, which opened Bistro Georgette inside Avanti Food & Beverage a year ago, are taking over operations at Cafe Marmotte at 290 South Downing Street. Although their original plan was to aim for a brick-and-mortar version of Bistro Georgette, Morrison, Carson and Leon shifted paths when the Marmotte opportunity arose.
Morrison says Cafe Marmotte will continue running without a break in service as the new team takes over, and a new menu will be rolled out in early October, combining the restaurant's best sellers with a few Bistro Georgette favorites.
But don't get too accustomed to French cuisine: Although the new owners will continue to operate as Cafe Marmotte through the end of the year, they'll switch over to a new Italian concept with a new name in 2020. Leon, the chef of the group, has been traveling through the western U.S. to expand his pasta repertoire for the new project.
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The reason for the slow changeover, Morrison explains, is to make things as easy as possible for the restaurant's current customers. "We really want the neighbors to have a smooth transition, and we want to earn their trust," she notes. "We're all about hospitality."
So classic French cuisine will continue to be the specialty for the next several months; that will include Bistro Georgette's croque madame and steak frites, though Morrison points out that the steak will be a little different than what's served at Avanti. The team also plans on expanding the wine menu and introducing creative new cocktails from Carson, who earned plenty of respect for his work as bar manager at Mizuna.
In fact, all three of Cafe Marmotte's new owners spent time at Mizuna — Leon as executive chef and Morrison as service manager. They've signed a twenty-year lease at 290 South Downing, indicating they're aiming for the same kind of neighborhood longevity that Mizuna has experienced in Governor's Park.
Cafe Marmotte was founded in 2015 by Mairen Reagan and chef Mark Reggiannini as an offshoot of La Marmotte in Telluride. They sold it to Maria and Strasis Katsaros in 2017. The restaurant will continue to be open for dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.