NEWTOWN >> A new upscale casual dining experience is coming to Newtown in early April as the local restaurant scene continues to grow and evolve.
The Grey Stone is scheduled to open its doors with a soft opening on April 10 and 11 and a grand opening on April 12 at the former Lavender Hall on Route 532 between Newtown and Washington Crossing bringing with it a brunch and dinner menu featuring modern and classic comfort food in an atmosphere of “comfortable elegance.”
After spending the better part of the last nine months cleaning up the grounds, opening up the property to showcase the magnificence of the manor house and renovating the inside of the 200-plus year old building, owner Brandon Smith said he’s eager to welcome the first customers through the front doors of what he calls “the historic gem” of Route 532.
“We want people to feel comfortable being here - like they’re at home,” he said. “We’re trying to make it into a place where people want to hang out for a while, that they’re comfortable in,” he said.
The 300-seat, full-service restaurant includes a reception area, the main dining room with 70 seats, a bar and lounge area with fireplace and comfortable seating, a second smaller bar area and two private dining rooms, one on the main floor and an 80 seat room upstairs.
At its bar, The Grey Stone will feature 33 taps for craft beer, wine and mixed cocktails. In addition, they’ll have cold brew coffee and cold brew latte on draft.
“It will be something a little different than what our competitors in the area are offering,” said Smith.
The 36-year-old Washington Crossing native, who graduated from Archbishop Wood, has taken great pains to renovate the landmark structure, which had sat nearly neglected for a decade, into what he hopes will become a popular bar and restaurant destination for local and regional patrons.
“With this entire project we wanted to honor the historic nature of the place and celebrate what a special place it is,” said Smith, who is confident patrons are going to enjoy the historic, yet modern surroundings they’ll find once they step inside its doors.
“We didn’t just slap on a new coat of paint. We really got acquainted with the place and significantly renovated it,” said Smith.
Gone are the paisley purple rugs and window treatments that looked like they came out of Medieval times that once graced the upstairs dining room.
“We entirely refaced this place with a total renovation,” he said. “We didn’t take any walls down, but we modernized and renovated everything. For many,” he said, “it will be unrecognizable.
“This has been a passion project,” he continued. “Being from the area, I’ve been looking for an opportunity for the past three to five years. This was the place where we were able to execute a deal. And this place meant the most to me with its history and how beautiful the place is.”
Smith, a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in business communications, brings a background in business operations to the new venture, having first worked for his grandfather, who runs a distribution company, and then for his brother, Michael, who owns Friends Bar and Grill in Newtown.
“I was drawn to the restaurant business. It’s a good fit for my personality - it’s fast paced, high energy. You get to be creative. I always gravitated toward it naturally,” he said.
At Friends, he learned the business from his brother with the hopes of one day becoming an owner himself.
“I worked with him for roughly 10 to 12 years in a management capacity, working my way up,” said Smith.
When Michael opened TJ Smiths Restaurant and Bar in Warrington, he named his brother the general manager, a position he held until launching out on his own last year to open The Grey Stone.
“Back of the House, front of the house I will be the owner-operator,” said Smith of The Grey Stone. “The only thing I don’t do is cook.”
He’s leaving that job to his chef, Massimo Credidio, who brings an impressive culinary background to the job.
After immigrating here from Italy in 1989, he has worked as a line cook at La Veranda at Penns Landing in Philadelphia, at Moonstruck in Fox Chase, Cafe Rivera at the Neshaminy Mall where he was the executive chef/manager for 14 years and at Pippo’s Fantastico in Southampton where he was head chef for close to a decade.
“He has a really impressive track record,” said Smith. “We have a great chemistry and together we’re excited to push forward our concept and our vision for this place.”
Credidio has whipped up an eclectic menu of comfort foods for The Grey Stone featuring a mix of modern and classic dishes and highlighting every American ethnicity.
His selections include everything from chicken, fish and seafood to veal, pork, beef and vegan.
For brunch, the menu, which is still evolving, includes pizza, salads, gourmet burgers (mac and cheese, lamb, fig jam, fried chicken and green tomato), breakfast items (chocolate waffle, Nutella French Toast, Build Your Own Omelet), and lots more
And with Credidio’s deep Italian roots, he’ll no doubt be making “some very nice Italian dishes and pastas” including one of his favorites, Black Squid Pasta.
“It’s going to be good,” promises Credidio of the food. “We’re going to do something good here for the community and for us.”
“With his experience, with his know-how, and with a lot of my ideas were going to have something very special here,” predicted Smith. “It’s the perfect union.”
If you go
The Grey Stone is conveniently located on Route 532 between Newtown and Washington Crossing and within easy access to Interstate 95. The restaurant will hold a soft opening on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 10 and 11 with a grand opening on Thursday, April 12.