We were going to call this 15 minutes with Lucia Watson, but she is a wee bit busy with the news that after 29 years at her eponymous Uptown restaurant, wine bar, and bakery cafe, she will be selling to a group of local investors.
She insists that the news really isn't all that interesting: "I've been at this for 30 years, which is a pretty long time. I turned 60. You start visualizing what you want it to look like, and this was the right thing at the right time."
The group of local investors who now own Lucia's is led by Jason Jenny, who is also CEO and majority investor of Stella's Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar, also located in Uptown, and co-owner of McHugh's Public House in Savage.
The Lucia's staff currently overseeing the place, chef Ryan Lund and general manager Heather Asbury, will continue in command, and the place will go forward, business as usual in every respect.
"Actually, even better, because it will allow my staff to truly shine," Watson says. Her input will continue as much or as little as her staff wishes, and she says it's "completely up to them" but of course she will help out in every possible way.
Staff and customer base couldn't be more supportive about the plan, she reports, and the whole environment is just a "general love-fest."
As far as future plans are concerned, she simply wants to "take it easy."
The true Lucia's 30th anniversary falls in February 2015, and Watson has four weekly dinners planned in order to celebrate.
The first is an original menu from her first year in business, a second will pay homage to some of her long-term farmers and she'll invite them to meet and greet guests while dining on the fruits (and veg and meats) of their labor, the third will feature some of Watson's favorite wines and vintners of all time, and last but not least will be a Valentine's Day feast.
"We hear so many people who associate Lucia's with love. Whether they got engaged here, fell in love here, have their anniversaries here. We're going to ask them to write letters and send them to [email protected]'s.com. We want to know if they associate these things with a particular food."
The menu will in some way reflect the responses and they'll post the letters to the website.
See? A general lovefest.
Watson is a three-time James Beard Foundation nominee, author of Cooking Freshwater Fish, and co-author of Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland.
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