Saturday, February 13, 2016

Big move for Avalon in West Chester

Avalon will move this spring into the current Nonna's in the borough.

Big move for Avalon in West Chester

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Nonna´s at 116 E. Gay St. in West Chester.
Nonna's at 116 E. Gay St. in West Chester.

Chef John Brandt-Lee is now running two Italian kitchens in West Chester.

For a dozen years, he's owned the popular BYOB Avalon at 312 S. High St. Effective immediately, he also is chef at Nonna's, about four blocks away, at 116 E. Gay St.

The arrangement will culminate this spring with Brandt-Lee's taking over 116 E. Gay St., setting it up as the new location of Avalon. At that point, Nonna's will close after four years.

Both restaurants are operating now.

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The advantage for Brandt-Lee is that Nonna's is twice the size of Avalon, and has a bar. Still, Brandt-Lee calls the impending move bittersweet because of the memories. "When I bought it, I knew nothing," he said. "Everything I learned about the restaurant business was in those four walls. This is part of the evolution. It's time for me to grow."

The new Avalon will serve wood-fired pizzas and will have a 12-seat antipasto counter where fresh mozzarella will be made and served. Brandt-Lee said the new spot will have a "grown-up bar" - a relative rarity in the borough - specializing in boutique Italian wines put together by Angela Ricetti, the restaurant manager (an alum of Spacca Napoli in Chicago), bourbon and craft beers curated by general manager Kris Kummerer (an alum of Restaurant Tacquet), and speciality cocktails using infused ingedients from Brandt-Lee.

As for Brandt-Lee's current location: He said he was talking to the landlord about staying there with a more casual concept.

He also owns Avalon Bistro in Downingtown, also a BYOB.

Staff Writer
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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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