Gary Lawrence, at the grill at Gary's Steak Out: Why work to death?
Gary's Steak Out & Bar has been sold to the people at Primo Grill, Gary Lawrence confirmed today.
Primo chef/owner Charlie McManus told me he's going to reopen Gary's as Crown Bar, an American bistro and "neighborhood bar," in September. Lawrence said he'll be packed up by the end of July.
Lawrence didn't just sell his 3-year-old grown-up steakhouse: McManus and his wife, Jacqueline Plattner, are buying the entire 10,000-square-foot building on the 2700 block of Sixth Avenue, home to a tattoo shop, a chiropractor, a driving school and a doggy day care.
Lawrence said the sale price was "beyond fair with Charlie."
"I'm really happy somebody's gonna care about it like I do," said Lawrence, who has operated restaurants in that building since 1987 – first Brunchies, then the breakfast spot The Sunriser, and finally, Gary's Steak Out.
Lawrence opened Gary's Steak Out in August 2004, spending $400,000 to transform his iconic Sixth Avenue breakfast joint into an upscale dinner house.
"I got tired of making breakfast, got tired of the speed," Lawrence said of his early-rising days cooking 10-egg omelets and 1-pound plates of hash browns for hung-over patrons. "I got tired of food being all over the floor. I built a really nice place and want to keep it that way."
At Gary's Steak Out, maple walls give the dining room an intimate, dinner-club feel. Marble in the restrooms is just plain classy.
McManus said the restaurant's "got great bones" that reminded him of the Crown Bar in Belfast, his hometown.
"I don't want to do an Irish bar," McManus said. "There are too many around already."
Lawrence said he plans to "semi retire" and undergo a "life change." He's 43 years old. He had "a couple of small heart attacks a few months ago." He said he'll make his side business of selling old muscle cars his main business.
Lawrence commutes from Shelton with his wife, Tess. Her mother works at Gary's as a hostess. Her father washes dishes.
"We've been there 20 years," Lawrence said. "Why work them to death?"
On the topic of work and health, Rosewood Cafe proprietor Barry Watson is out of the hospital after heart attacks and surgury.