For Dave Gibson, executive chef at Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls, the kitchen itself is a dream come-true.
"It's like Disneyland," Gibson said of his new workspace, "and it's like every chef's dream. It's quite a layout and quite a kitchen."
Because it was love at first sight, Gibson said coming up with a name for the new restaurant at the hotel was easy.
"We changed it to The Kitchen partially because of my love of the kitchen here," he said. "You know Tim Allen with all his tools at 'Tool Time'? That's what we have here."
Gibson joined the boutique hotel in September and said he is part of an innovative team, bringing new menus and new business to Hotel Clarence.
Deciding to accept the position was easy, Gibson said. He fell in love with the property, but also liked the challenge of the position itself.
Gibson has worked in kitchens for 41 years and has experience in the hotel business and restaurant operations. He owned his own restaurant — The Old Erie in Weedsport — which he sold a few years ago. His stability and knowledge has attracted others to want to work with him.
Michael Gaudio, sous chef at Hotel Clarence, was in search of a more challenging position and joined the team in January. He said that Gibson was a big reason why he accepted the position.
"I wanted to further myself," he said. "Dave knows a lot more than I do and by working with him, I am able to further my career and be the best that I can be."
Gaudio brings a young flair to the team, and he and Gibson work together to see what they can come up with, Gaudio said.
"Dave has seen a lot more than I have in his 41 years and because of that, it assists me in learning the business," he said. "And I've learned more here than I have anywhere else. We're starting to complement each other and it's become fun."
The new restaurant officially opened in October. Its contemporary design and new menu offer patrons a different experience and an opportunity to enjoy a classic hotel restaurant with a new twist, Gibson said.
Daily specials, new party and banquet menus, tasty Italian food and affordable prices are some of what patrons can look forward to, he added.
"We're more of contemporary Italian restaurant now," Gibson said. "It used to be a casual restaurant with a lot of comfort food. We're still very comfort food-oriented, but we lean on the Italian food more."
The hotel has seen a few changes over the years, but both Gibson and Gaudio said that things are different this time around. Community support is really important, and both Gibson and Gaudio said that they hope to become more involved with the community.
"We understand that the Hotel Clarence has been through some changes but we'd like people to give us a shot," Gibson said. "We've got some exciting people doing what they're good at here, and we're trying to empower folks to do what they do best and I think people will see that."