A landmark restaurant reimagined for the modern sophisticated diner
In our July/August 2015 issue’s of Back of the House column, we go behind the scenes of The Krebs and see how Executive Chef Austin Johnson has helped transform the newly reopened landmark restaurant into a modern fine dining establishment.
If you thought Skaneateles’ Kim and Adam Weitsman set out to replicate the renowned Krebs restaurant concept when they purchased the establishment after it closed in 2010, you’d be mistaken. That bountiful, family-style operation had aged out of the marketplace. The couple, instead, completely revamped the 1899 landmark, reopening in August of 2014 as a haven for people interested in food as an art form and dining as a gracious experience.
Executive Chef Austin Johnson is totally on board with the Weitsmans’ standard of excellence and very clear about his goal of obtaining top restaurant accolades.
Johnson was introduced to The Krebs through a recruiter. The chef didn’t have any intention of leaving Manhattan. He had settled in. “There was no restaurant in the world that was going to pull me away from New York City,” Johnson says. But he is nothing if not adventurous; so he took the interview and traveled to a town whose name he couldn’t pronounce, Skaneateles, with a suitcase full of mis en place, dishware and sharp knives.
Upon arrival at 53 West Genesee Street, Johnson’s disinterest shifted as he walked up the steps onto the porch and entered the front door. “I have an eye for quality, being in so many dining rooms and restaurants over the years,” Johnson says. Then he entered the kitchen, which was an even pleasanter surprise, as it resembled many of the Michelin three-star establishments where he had worked. And so, Johnson accepted the position as executive chef of The Krebs in its new iteration with the Weitsmans at the helm.