Less than two years after Lucia’s changed hands for the first time in nearly 30 years, there is another shakeup at the Uptown staple.
Alan Bergo – the former Salt Celler’s executive chef – stepped in to head Lucia’s kitchen early this week, giving what owner Dr. Jason Jenny hopes will be direction for the restaurant’s next era.
“We were looking for somebody that kind of represents where we want Lucia’s to go in the future,” Jenny said. “Alan kind of presents a young, energetic, spirited type of energy and that’s really what we’re looking for.”
When Jenny took the helm from Lucia Watson, the spot’s original owner, chef Ryan Lund had been at the helm for about a decade. After Lund stepped away from the business, Matthew Ellison took over and has been the head chef for the last month or so. Both Lund and Ellison decided to leave the business to become full-time dads, although Ellison will remain on staff for a couple more weeks to help with a smooth transition.
But don’t expect too much to change – at least initially – at the neighborhood favorite. Jenny said he expects to keep the same menu alive for now, and when tweaks do come, those decisions will be made in tandem with Watson, who still works as a sort of consultant for her brainchild.
“Once he gets his feet wet, then he and Lucia will work together,” Jenny said of Bergo. Lucia has always volunteered that out – I bought this from her two years ago, but it’s always going to be her legacy and as long as she’s willing to come back and work with my chef, they will collaborate together.”
Jenny said he sees similar qualities in Watson and Bergo, who cut his teeth under chef Lenny Russo at Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar.
“Alan is ready to go,” Jenny said. “And we feel his background with Lenny is such that his ability for menu design and creation, he had already done this – so it’s really just getting him in and getting him used to the kitchen and more of the background aspects that we can really help him with. He’s a quick learner, he’s a quick study, he’s a very sharp, educated individual, and I think his learning curve will be short.”