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Graft will continue in Watkins Glen

Posted on August 02, 2019

Meet Orlando Rodriguez -the new Chef and Owner of Graft!

After an outstanding twelve-year run as Executive Chef of Veraisons At Glenora Winery, Orlando along with wife Natacia has purchased Graft with the intention to continue to bring locally-focused cuisine and drink to Franklin Street in #WatkinsGlen.

At Veraisons, Orlando always creates connections with farmers for his menus and the cuisine is not only seasonal, but innovative, beautiful, daring and delicious.

Orlando’s philosophy of focusing on #local is the basis of what Graft was designed for; to give back to the community with local food and drink. He’s excited to bring his own unique style to Graft including dishes influenced by his Latin background!

Having his own restaurant with Natacia and their four kids was part of the family plan and while the timing may have been sooner than intended, the opportunity to take over the successful, existing kitchen and bar presented itself in an unlikely manner...Last February at one of Veraison’s popular Pasta Nights, Ted Marks (in true not-giving-a-sh*$%-that-you’re-working form) whispers to the Chef, “I’m going to sell Graft and you’re the first person on my list to take it over.”

And so it began. And so it goes!

With excitement for all involved, Graft will continue as a gathering place, a local hub for eating good food and drink. Orlando has great ideas for change and growth in the Graft space; more details will be revealed upon the completion of the sale.

In respect to Glenora Wine Cellars and their constant support, Orlando is planning to re-open Graft in early Fall.

Part-owner Katie Marks said about the change, “If I were to choose one person to take over what Christina and I have created here, I would choose Orlando. Not only for his commitment to local, but because I have loved the innovation and elegance he brought to Glenora - he once made a chocolate mousse that was so good it brought tears to my eyes. I know he’ll shine in this space and this space will shine because of him."

Region: New York
Job Function: President/Owner/GM, Chef and Owner

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