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Find more of Olivia Wilson's cakes, pastries and desserts — like this chocolate cake with lemon curd, chocolate ganache, milk crumble and vanilla buttercream — early next year when Brenner Pass and Chairlift launch. (Photo courtesy Metzger Bar & Butchery)
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Pastry chef Olivia Wilson, co-owner of Scott's Addition's Brenner Pass and Chairlift, which launch in February 2017 (Photo by Kate McGee)
We're only four months from the opening of Brenner Pass — the Alps-inspired, 4,000-square-foot restaurant from the team behind Metzger Bar & Butchery — where we'll find large-format punches; the thick waterfall of oozing raclette; and a menu that pulls from four or five countries connected by the restaurant's namesake, the famous scenic road. But we'll have to wait one month longer for the group's newest concept, and it's one that seems well worth the wait.
Set to open a few weeks after the expected January launch of Brenner Pass, Chairlift will provide a full coffee and espresso bar with pastries, sandwiches, salads, wine and beer — both by the glass and by the bottle — a casual, slightly more rustic annex to its sleeker, large-scaled sibling. It's a 1,500-square-foot space, warm, bright and airy, that will open as early as 7 or 8 a.m. and remain open alongside Brenner through dinner service. Part bottle shop, part bakery, Chairlift is inspired by small, affordable European cafés and designed to fit Scott's Addition's needs for simple, affordable, high-quality food that's available all day.
Twenty to 30 seats spread between a sun-dappled countertop in the front window; intimate tables; bar seating along walls; and a back room, which can be reserved for private events, should give guests ample space to enjoy a cappuccino, a baguette sandwich, or a charcuterie and cheese board, all while connected to the chalet-inspired waiting area of the gleaming and brass-accented Brenner. Of course, guests can also take food to go, and may even be able to grab a few pantry staples while there, but don't expect a full market. Do, however, expect a few surprises, possibly in the form of pints of house-made ice cream, or sorbet such as concord grape with Fernet.
And Chairlift's not only bringing an all-day coffee shop to the neighborhood; it's bringing about big news for the restaurant's partnerships: Olivia Wilson, current pastry chef of Metzger, will become a co-owner of both Brenner Pass and Chairlift, and will assume the role of executive pastry chef across all three.
“Olivia, in my opinion, is the best pastry chef in town and she does incredible work, and I probably would die before she went somewhere else," says Brittanny Anderson, executive chef and co-owner of the three concepts. "Unless it were her own place, and then I’d be so happy for her, but here we had an opportunity where [she gets] to own something and stay with me,” she laughs.
“We all kind of have our own thing that we’re doing, and I think it works really well," Wilson adds. "I think I have something to offer and something to contribute with becoming an owner, and it’s really exciting. I’m humbled and happy that everyone believes I can do it.”
As a partner, she joins Anderson and other Metzger co-owners Nathan Conway and Brad Hemp, as well as beverage authority James Kohler, currently of Saison and Saison Market.
Wilson attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City and spent months working a vineyard in Austria, and will be bringing her European pastry training and experience to the group. She'll also be hiring pastry assistants in the coming months; in addition to Metzger's new bread program — which will be brought over to and expanded in the 1,200-square-foot kitchen of Brenner — Wilson now has three separate focuses for pastry and creates some of the city's most stunning cakes. Though they're currently only available for catering and special events, don't be surprised to find these layered beauties for retail at Chairlift, nor to see Wilson and pastry cooks potentially icing and decorating them behind the counter.
“As far as what I do, it’s very classic, so I think I just want to keep focusing on that," she says. "As I transition to Brenner, Metzger will become a little more fine-tuned.” The desserts in Church Hill (or Union Hill, if we're being nitpicky) may become slightly more intricate, a bit more upscale or abstract, while the pastries available at Chairlift will be rustic, classic. In Brenner Pass, you'll be able to finish a meal with a few of Europe's most classic desserts, such as baba au rhum.
“It’s very rare in this town. I think a lot of people think it’s not cost-effective, but it makes a difference," Anderson says of bringing on a designated pastry chef. "I knew Olivia could make desserts, but at a certain point I thought, ‘Lets take this pastry idea and put it throughout our menu, like with breads and things like dough.' She has a hand in all of that. I think people need to think about pastry as not something that’s separate, but part of it. It’s all part of the same package.”
Wilson smiles. “It’s nice to find someone who gets it.”
Chairlift will be located at 1800 Highpoint Ave. and is set to open in February 2017.