A spot on Regent Street in downtown Fredericton has been getting a lot of attention lately. Tucked in between King Street and Queen Street, the restaurant Ten Resto is going out with a bang.
Ten Resto, which featured ten tables with ten items per ten menus a year, has been almost fully booked since owners Keith Phillippe and Shelley Damron announced their decision to close down. Their last day will be June 24, when they embark on a new adventure.
Phillippe says the restaurant continued to do well through their four years there, but he and Damron wanted to get back to being outside more and so they decided to throw their experience and passion into a food truck, which they’ve dubbed GastroGnomes.
“Our lease was due to expire a year from now and we’d actually talked about whether or not to open another restaurant and wrestled with that for quite a while,” he says.
“We spent most of six years travelling, five of it on a sailboat. We missed being outside and thought how could we actually capture that again and had come to the conclusion that we wanted to give the food truck a go.”
Phillippe says they plan to travel around the province with the truck and offer catering services, essentially going wherever there is interest. He says both Maybee Brewing and Grimross have offered to host launch parties for the new truck.
GastroGnomes, which is set to be up and running by the third week of July, will feature a blend of what Phillippe has done at Ten Resto in small plate, one-hand form. He says he’s planning on a wild boar burger, venison French dip and fries cooked in beef tallow as a sort of callback to the original McDonald’s fries.
11th Mile taking over from Ten Resto
Phillippe and Damron had originally planned to take a year to transition from the restaurant to the food truck, but when Peter Tompkins and Jennie Wilson contacted them about taking over their lease, their timeline got a lot shorter.
“We’d been looking at places for about two and a half years and it’s been hard to find a place with an actual kitchen in it,” Tompkins said. “We heard via the grapevine that they were opening a food truck and we just approached them over Facebook and the timing was kind of perfect. They were looking to get out and we were looking to get in.”
Tompkins and Wilson are gearing up to open 11th Mile and move back to New Brunswick from Toronto, where Tompkins has been working as a chef for the last ten years at locations including Quince Bistro and Noorden Food Bar.
“We definitely want to contribute to the food scene [in Fredericton],” Wilson said. “We come home frequently and we know what’s going on there right now. Ultimately, I think we’ll bring probably a new style of menu … That kind of small plate menu with some craft cocktails.”
“Part of it will be those big city flavours that we’re bringing with us but really a focus also on Maritime hospitality, making a space where people come together, have a great time, make memories and even further that sense of community within a restaurant setting.”
Tompkins believes people are becoming more and more open to different kinds of food and he plans to take advantage of that by drawing on global influences for flavour in a recognizable manner.
“We’re not doing any specific type of food. We want to make it recognizable and approachable to people but bringing in different ingredients and different flavours,” he says.
Wilson says they’re starting with the one location, but that they hope to eventually establish what she calls a little family of restaurants in Fredericton, similar to what’s been done with Momofuku or Pubbelly, which she says have three or four restaurants that are each different with unifying features.
Tompkins says they’re not targeting any one particular demographic and that he hopes to attract many with their casual bar-like feel.
“People hopefully will just be able to come in and they won’t feel intimidated to try any one thing,” he says. “If you want to come in and have a glass of wine and one dish and walk down the street and try something else, that’s going to be fine … By doing it that way, I think it doesn’t really alienate one group at all.”