The bank of the San Sebastian River will be the new home for the St. Augustine gem, Culinary Outfitters. For years nestled in a nondescript strip on South Dixie Highway, the renowned eatery has secured a room with a view for its new location. And what a view! The east facing plate windows will allow patrons to take in the views of bustling Downtown St. Augustine and while relaxing and dining on world-class fare. The building will be beautiful and iconic, yet purposefully unpretentious.
This is the vision of two local boys made good. Each a successful chef in his own right, Chase Pritchard and Kris Sullivan have combined years of experience and enthusiasm for great food into the realization of a dream project: a waterfront venue that offers the classic Florida lifestyle-vibe coupled with dishes that can go toe-to-toe with any internationally acclaimed offerings.
We were able to sit down with Chase and Kris to learn more about the new venture. The conversation between the two was one left us bystanders while the two worked to unsuccessfully underscore their enthusiasm for what is about to come.
Where are you gentlemen from? How’d you meet?
Chase Pritchard: I was born on the water here in St. Augustine.
Kris Sullivan: So was I. Chase and I met in fifth grade I believe?
CP: Yeah, I think we’ve been in classes together since fourth grade, actually.
KS: We’ve stayed in touch over the years. Both of us being chefs made it easy and we were able to keep tabs on each other and what we were both doing.
How did you two get to the point where you wanted to work on this new iteration of Culinary Outfitters together?
KS: I like to think that St. Augustine did that for us.
CP: I think I contacted Kris a year and a half ago and asked him if he was ready to move back to St. Augustine and get out of the NYC rat race. (Kris laughs). I mean the restaurant wasn’t even built yet and I was asking him to make a major life change for this idea. It’s hard to find someone you can trust in a kitchen, so you have to put the right people on your side.
KS: I was apprehensive at first, like “if it happens, let me know.” But I also know that (Chris and I) share a strong vision of what we’d like to see happen in a place like this, right on the water. So, really, it was a no brainer.
CP: Between Kris and I, we can identify nuances that may be lacking in St. Augustine culinary world and help fill those gaps. We have great things going on in St. Augustine and Northeast Florida right now, and, I suppose, it is more about adding our own twist to the overall experience.
KS: There are big, outdoor restaurants all up and down Florida, but the vision and originality is what will help us offer the best dining experience at Culinary Outfitters.
CP: …and you have to stay true to your roots
I’m going to put you both in an awkward position. What is it that you have found in the other person that you are lacking yourself, which will help make Culinary Outfitters a success?
CP: I think Kris is extremely detail oriented. He can look at a big picture and see the small items that can help separate us from other people.
KP: I think Chase brings a very well-rounded approach to the business. His relationships with people and other businesses is something that enlightened me to be able to make this idea a reality.
Is it weird to talk about this out loud?
CP: Not unless you make it weird.
KS: Yeah, right.
Let’s talk about the concept a bit. What do you see happening organically at Culinary Outfitters?
KS: We can start with the outdoor restaurant feel but round it out with really eclectic dishes. I don’t want to get away from running an approachable place to eat, but the food should certainly talk for itself. We can put the hard work on the plate and let people enjoy their time and meal.
So, it’s not just, “let’s rely on the view.”
KS: We are working with the view and the location and having it work together with the food so that there is a bit more refinement on the plate.
CP: Everything ties together. The location, how it’s been set up.
KS: Chase and I went back and forth with the blueprints a few times. And what we found is that the changes we made have been for the better of the workflow and the kitchen set up.
The concept is big and beautiful, but what about the opening is making you shake in your boots right now?
KS: I just don’t want folks to think that we’re pretentious. That’s the one thing that I think of. I think the city can embrace us as we keep our integrity.
CP: I wake up in the middle of the night and think about service flow and everything else. (laughs)
Kris, are you sleeping, cause it Chase is up all night pacing.
KS: Not at all.
What do you each think the other guy is most looking forward to?
CP: I think Kris is looking forward to the first night of service.
KS: I think Chase is looking forward to the beer after the first night of service.
[Laughter all around]
Culinary Outfitters is due to open in early 2020 at the St. Augustine Shipyards.
This is a special sponsored feature paid for by Culinary Outfitters.