Chef Andy Conroy and Acting Manager Johnny Little

ITHACA, N.Y. — A longtime chef has opened a new barbecue restaurant in downtown Ithaca that will deliver the grub to your door.

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Chef Andy Conroy bought the Gateway Kitchen at 401 E. State St. at the end of May. In less than two months, he rebranded it as the Gateway BBQ Kitchen.

The restaurant opened about two weeks ago and specializes in making in-house smoked and barbecued meat, and other homemade food, he said.

Conroy is a Rochester native who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996 and spent almost 15 years traveling as a chef. He said he’s cooked cuisine in the Virgin Islands, Texas, Alaska and has spend time in Europe with his wife where he explored European food.

“Its always been in the back of my mind,” Conroy says of opening a restaurant. “I just had to find the right spot to settle down.”

Ithaca was that spot for him.

“It’s a very unique place, unique people,” he said. “I don’t like the big cities.”

Chef Andy Conroy and Acting Manager Johnny Little

He and former co-worker and lifelong Ithacan Johnny Little joined forces to open Conroy’s first restaurant endeavor — Little runs the front of house as an acting manager, while Conroy cooks the food to order.

“I knew what Andy could do in the kitchen,” Little said about joining Conroy. And Little, who used to own a catering company, said he knew he could manage the day-to-day business.

Together, they created a rustic themed restaurant with a menu inspired by some of the places Conroy has worked. For instance, the Caribbean Platter — grilled mahi mahi topped with roasted pineapple, arugula, and chipotle mayo on a pressed Cuban roll — is inspired by his time as a chef in the Virgin Islands.

The Gateway Summer Salad made with grilled watermelon and pineapple, goat cheese feta, and mint a top a bed of mixed field greens served with zesty citrus dressing.

The barbecue dishes, such as the brisket and pulled pork, are made like they would be in Texas, Conroy said — slow smoked and hand-rubbed with homemade spices.

But Little, who is a vegetarian, added that there are also plenty of non-meat options, such as the Gateway Summer Salad and black bean burger.

A small ode to Conroy’s time in Alaska is blended into the decor.

The food can be delivered within a 4-mile radius of the restaurant through contacting the restaurant directly or ordering online at a variety of places, such a GrubHub or EastStreet.

Contact Jolene Almendarez anytime: 907-854-3248 | Email | Twitter | Facebook

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.