A 100-seat French-influenced brasserie, The Sign of the Buck, will open Friday in the Union Hotel, 29 Chambersburg St., in downtown Gettysburg.
The brasserie’s locally-sourced European-Continental, Mediterranean, and “New American French Bistro” menu features local offerings, from produce and farm-raised meats to world-class beers, ciders, and spirits. Local suppliers include Bantam Café Roasters, Weaving Root Farms, and Beaver Creek Farms.
The restaurant aspires to create an upscale yet unpretentious dining experience. “We want it to be a place where you’d be just as comfortable having a few drinks at the bar as you would dining out with your loved ones for a special occasion,” said Gettysburg native and co-owner Leslie Trew Magraw.
The brasserie’s décor includes a long, modern, bar as well as mid-century modern inspired banquette seating.
The restaurant is owned by Magraw and her partner Andrew Johnson on the site of their 12-suite boutique hotel. “This building is a special place in a special town,” she said.
Magraw, who has worked at the Farnsworth House, as well as restaurants in Washington DC, said although there was meat on the menu, including venison, the brasserie also provided a wide variety of vegetarian and pescatarian dishes. “We’re offering as much local, fresh materials as possible, she said.
Magraw said they had hoped to open in the spring, but that remodeling the building had been a challenge. “This building is real crooked. A wall was collapsing. It was dust,” she said.
The final touches of the extensive renovation are still being made, including applying gold leaf to the picture windows overlooking Chambersburg Street.
“We have a great crew,” said Fairfield native and General Manager Ilsa Chesnick. “We’re offering a full bar experience, with craft and classic cocktails and mocktails. Chesnick said the craft beverages were named after local restaurants, past and present, including the raspberry-themed “Blue Parrot” mocktail.
The staff characterized the restaurant as “elevated casual,” and said the goal was to make it approachable no matter the occasion. “You can pop in on the weekend for a champagne,” said Magraw. “Though you can expect five-star food, we want to engender a casual vibe; there are no linen tablecloths or maître d’s.”
It’s a beautiful space, said Littlestown native and Executive Chef Brent Golding. “Since the equipment showed up in June we’ve been tasting and trying everything.”
Golding said he had helped open Gettysburg’s Mela restaurant before working in Philadelphia and Lancaster and then returning to Adams County. He has also worked at Antrim 1844 and the Sheppard Mansion, as well as at Josephine and Husk in Nashville. “It’s great there’s a place like this so close to home,” he said.
Next up are two privately-booked soft openings, tomorrow and Wednesday evenings, followed by another day of preparation and an official opening on Friday.
Chesnick said the soft openings would help prepare the staff. “We’re still learning. We all want to be a little more creative and have fun,” she said.
The restaurant pays homage to the property’s past by bearing the name it first operated under when it opened as a tavern and boarding house in 1804, at the time Lewis & Clark began their epic journey west.
The Sign of the Buck will be open for dinner seven days a week and hopes to introduce a brunch service in the near future.
Initial hours of operation are 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Featured image caption: Chesnick, Magraw, Johnson, and Golding.