ITHACA, N.Y. — Seth Gregory helped build the Fine Line Bistro on West State Street from its beginning, and many aspects of the restaurant — including its open kitchen — reflected his philosophies about food and cooking.
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“I’ve always been a fan of the process of whatever art it may be, of the creation that’s happening,” Gregory said.
But now the bistro is closing. Thursday marked the final night of the well-known restaurant.
“Well folks that’s all, the end of an era. Just took off my apron for the last time at Fine Line Bistro,” Gregory said in a Facebook page Thursday evening, “There are projects in the works, but for now I’m gonna rest my bones.”
‘An incredible experience,’ but new adventures await
Gregory, 33, said that despite the restaurant’s closure, he’s still proud of what it accomplished.
“Making it last eight years is huge in this business,” Gregory said, “places go under all the time.”
A study by researchers at Cornell University estimated that after the first year, 27% of restaurant startups failed; after three years, 50% of those restaurants were no longer in business; and after five years 60% were unsuccessful.
“Fine Line has been an incredible experience for both Seth and me, but it’s time for a new adventure,” said co-owner and General Manager Danny Doyle.
Gregory isn’t quite ready to say what these new adventures might be, but says that he already has lots of ideas.
He says he’s looking forward to taking a break, but knows that it will probably only last a month or two before he gets antsy and is ready to take on whatever is next.
Related: Fine Line Bistro is for sale
In an interview in March, Emily Doyle said Danny Doyle was hoping to spend more time with his family and children and that the restaurant business has proved very taxing.
“In order to run the business, for how it has to be run, he has to be there every single day,” she said. “If you ask Danny, he would tell you, ‘It’s a young man’s game.’”
Cruising the world on a plate
If you’ve ever been to Fine Line Restaurant, you likely saw Gregory — both a chef and a co-owner — behind the counter of the open kitchen, sporting a mohawk to accompany his tattoos.
Gregory began working in the culinary world at 16 in his hometown of Alfred, NY. He worked first as a cook in a B&B, and then as a dishwasher, where he developed a love for food.
Over the years, he continued working his way up in the business, eventually becoming the sous chef at the now-closed Ithaca restaurant, Pangea, when he first moved to town 11 years ago. It was when Pangea closed that the planning process for Fine Line began.
Gregory said he sees opening Fine Line as the biggest success in his career to date.
When asked about being voted Best Chef in the 2013 Ithaca Times’ “Best of Ithaca” Gregory smiled and said, “I never expected to do anything like that.”
Gregory said that being chef isn’t just a job — it’s a lifestyle.
When asked what inspires him he said, “Some of it is humor. I’ll take something that’s traditional and everyone expects to be a certain way, and then deconstruct it, or goof off with it.”
After all, Gregory says, he “can cruise around the world on a plate.”