"Appetizers" recently shared the news that Kelly McCown was leaving his executive chef position at Ella Dining Room & Bar to head Goose & Gander, a new restaurant in the Napa Valley located in the former Martini House. Now, there's another connection. Marcus Marquez, former owner of L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen, has joined Goose & Gander's team as its general manager and partner.
Marcus, who ran the L with wife Kolea before shutting down in July due to money and legal issues, will move his family to St. Helena in the summer. Goose & Gander's aiming for an early April opening, meaning Marcus Marquez will be doing some commuting between Napa and Sacramento for a few months. The expectations are meanwhile high for Goose & Gander, which was recently named by Zagat.com as one of the Bay Area's "17 hottest openings of 2012."
The opportunity took shape for Marquez after attending McCown's farewell dinner at Ella. Since the L's closure, Marquez took a job with the distributor Epic Wines and spent many working days in Napa.
"He knows the area, he knows the people and he's one of those people who always has a smile on their face," said McCown. "We brought him down and we were all on the same page. We're very excited to have him as part of our team."
Prior to opening the L, Marquez was a floor manager at The Kitchen in Sacramento and also was a representative for Paul Bullard & Associates, which sold such boutique wines as Marcassin and Karl Lawrence. This move to Goose & Gander brings Marquez back to his roots in the front of the house at a restaurant.
"I always dreamt I could work in the Napa Valley with all these big hitter restaurant people," said Marquez. "I'm going to miss Sacramento, but for food and wine I feel so alive and inspired to be here."
Chris Macias is the Bee's food and wine writer. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias