Rochester’s Chapman House suspends catering service

A multimillion-dollar renovation, top-notch kitchen leadership and local newspaper articles were apparently not enough to keep the doors open regularly at Chapman House in Rochester.

The farm-to-table restaurant in a restored mansion in the northern suburbs of Detroit announced on its Facebook page Thursday that it would be suspending its dinner and brunch service to focus on private events, “at least until at the end of summer “.

Reached by phone, former executive chef Chris Cason said he left the restaurant to take another opportunity about a month ago. He said his chef and brother Dan Cason would work there on his last day on Saturday.

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“We learned a lot and I was happy to bring something new and different to Rochester,” said Chris Cason. “We were very happy to receive the accolades we received, especially being a geographic outlier. I am really proud of what we have been able to achieve there in terms of food. “

Among other accolades, Chapman House was named # 5 on Free Press’s Best New Restaurant list last year.

The restaurant debuted in June 2016 after a meticulous five-year renovation of the historic William Clark Chapman mansion by owner Geoffrey Dancik.

Dancik recruited the Cason brothers, who had both worked in some of the best kitchens in the area, to lead the kitchen staff.

Dancik confirmed their departure on Friday evening, but said he intended to eventually resume catering.

“I can tell you for sure that we are opening again,” he said. “I finally decided that rushing someone new here to perform at the same level that I demand would be exceptionally difficult. So why not take this time to really assess how we are doing things?”

Dancik said the restaurant “needs a change of direction” and will likely come back with a new concept.

“With Chris and Dan we have done some really good things over the past few years,” he said. “We made changes to accommodate. … [But] I think we missed the mark in some areas. “

Dancik said he never intended Chapman House to become a destination dining venue, but nearly 40% of his weekend bookings were made by people living 45 minutes or more away.

There was also a perception problem, he said, because the number one question on the phone and online was, “What’s your dress code?” ”

“I don’t want it to sound like this is all anyone’s fault,” Dancik said. “That’s what it is.… I think people tend to think of these things as failures, but I try never to look at it that way.”

Contact Mark Kurlyandchik: 313-222-5026 Where [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @mkurlyandchik and Instagram: curly handshake.

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