In getting to know one of the more talked about restaurants opening in town this summer, we cast a line out to the two friendly gents behind the Grey Lady Montauk, Ryan Chadwick and Callum McLaughlin. The young restauranteurs have incredibly well-frequented locations in NYC, Aspen and Nantucket, along with a locally-sourced strategy that tastefully appreciates each area that their restaurants inhabit.
In getting to know the guys a bit more personally, we hopped on the line to discuss some of the lesser known details—why large groups of girls might feel comfortable in their restaurant, why their food sourcing is so fresh so clean, who’d they invite to eat with them at a six-person dream dinner (dessert included), and more.
The Grey Lady. It’s the name of a recent episode of Game of Thrones, a ghost reputed to haunt England, New Zealand + select towns in North Dakota, and a nickname for the New York Times and some random town in Massachusetts named Nantucket. There seems to be a lot of room for confusion—can you give us your version of the Grey Lady, what it means to you?
Ryan + Callum: You are correct on all of the above and funny enough, The New York Times called us the week we opened in NYC and asked why we named our restaurant after their newspaper? We told the person on the other line it was for free press, they hung up.
Grey Lady is meant to be an extension of our living room. Callum and I grew up in different states but we are both from the Northeast and met on Nantucket 20 summers ago. When we met back up in NYC, we decided to open something we thought the Lower East Side was missing—a New England oyster bar. And Grey Lady was born. It turns out naming it after a woman also seems to make large groups of girls feel comfortable. Which isn’t a bad thing.
You gents have locations in Nantucket, Aspen, NYC and now Montauk. You know the summer is miserable out here, right? Terribly fun waves, terribly beautiful women, terribly good times…all sorts of terrible. Can you talk a bit about how Montauk grabbed your attention, and was chosen as your next location for expansion?
R: I can’t think of a better thing to do then skiing fresh powder in Aspen, watching the sunset on a Nantucket beach or exploring Manhattan on a beautiful day. After spending the last few months in Montauk, I get why people spend 7 hrs in traffic to get here. We have a thing for islands and island life, Montauk fits nicely with our business model and we really enjoy hanging with the locals out here.
C: We seem to make terrible choices in terms of locations so might as well add Montauk to the list. I spent a lot of time in East Hampton growing up, have a lot of family out here, and when presented with the opportunity it seemed to make a lot of sense. We seem to like things located on Eastern extremes. Lower East Side, Nantucket, Montauk.
Outside of running a successful oyster bar, what are you guys looking forward to doing most this summer? Can we expect to see you at an undisclosed dive bar’s karaoke night? In the water out at Ditch? On the dancefloor of a wedding we’re planning on crashing?
R: I’d have to say yes, on all of the above. We work really hard and play even harder when we have the opportunity.
C: While I do enjoy my nights out, I just had a daughter last week so will probably be spending a lot of time with her and the wife chilling out on the beach.
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Word on the street is that you guys boast an overwhelming edible menu. I’m checking out it/drooling on my keyboard right now, and I see—amongst scrambled eggs with Maine lobster— a menu item titled, “Cereal Crusted French Toast.” What would you say is your most popular item on your menu, and can you talk to me about which cereals your chef is working with? Captain Crunch? Fruity Pebbles? This might be the most important question of this interview.
R: We are known for our lobster rolls. We partnered up with a local bakery to make us custom New England split top buns to match our custom Balthazar buns in NYC. We steam a live 1 1/4 lb lobster in house and hand pick the meat and mix up a house aioli, mix the meat and grill the split top bun. My uncle is a lobster man and I’m from Maine so having a perfect lobster roll is very important to me. Brunch starts in a few weeks so you will have to come see for yourself what kind of cereal makes it on the menu.
C: We do specialize in seafood, with oysters and lobster rolls (see Chadwick’s description above) being our most popular items. Regarding the French Toast, my favorite is Lucky Charms, obviously.
One of the most popular discussions/trends in restauranteering right now seems to be how restaurants source their food. We think it’s awesome that the everyday consumer is becoming more consciousness of appreciating that their food is sourced locally and/or from topnotch locations. How essential would you say your sourcing is to the success of your business?
R + C: We buy local and we buy fresh, period. The first thing I did when I took the Montauk space was take the freezer and throw it in the dumpster (sorry, no ice cream!). We are very consistent with this at all locations—even Aspen, where getting fresh seafood is very difficult. Everything is sourced as locally as possible. Montauk pearls have long been one of my favorite oysters and will be sure to be on the menu, we have used them consistently in NYC for years. Much of our seafood will be coming from right down the street at Gosman’s. There will also be plenty of Montauk Brew Co. and Wolffer wine, amongst other local beverages.
Last but certainly not least, you can serve a private table with 6 seats. Give us any 6 people in the world, dead or alive, that you would be most hyped to sit down and enjoy food with at the Grey Lady. Bonus: What’s the chef serving up for dessert?
R: I can just think of one person—my father, he passed away 8 years ago before I opened my first restaurant. It would be great to show him what we’ve built and thank him for showing me the way. The other five seats are reserved for the Grey Lady staff, without them none of this would be possible. Dessert: Woopie Pie. Because, Maine.
C: Bob Marley, Bill Murray, Anthony Bourdain, Eddie Vedder, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. I’d probably (definitely) have some Fernet Branca and a brownie sundae for dessert.
For more info + reservations, head over to the Grey Lady Montauk’s website, and swing by any day of the week (4-6pm) to join us in demolishing $1 oysters.