Know Your NEW Chef: John Krakowski at Legends Grille
New owner manages to keep Basil's clientele coming back for more.
The new owner and chef of Legends Grille, John Krakowski, realized he had big shoes to fill when taking over the restaurant on Route 33. Formerly known as Basil's Legends Lamb Chop House, this bustling dine-in location has always been a local favorite. And Chef Basil Karakatsanis has been known to be the wizard behind all the magic for the past sixteen years.
So what happens now?
Although Basil has left the building, his recipes live on in the hands of Chef Krakowski. As of May 1, the grille's new owner has been producing the original recipes the community knows and loves. “I shadowed Basil for a month and learned all of his secrets,” said Krakowski. “Everything is exactly the same here, except for the faces.”
Krakowski's son, John Jr., is the face behind the bar. Kelli, Krakowski's daughter, is one of the friendly servers. And if you're lucky, you might spot Robin, Krakowski's wife, helping out on the weekends.
This chef is big on family. In 2010, he and John Jr. started Hearty Creations Personal Chefs, their very own personal chef business. They're based in Jersey, and they're still catering. “We feel like we're at home here. My dad and I both went to Hightstown High,” explained John Jr.
Chef Krakowski says he's always loved to cook. According to him, the most important element of the business is customer service. “I've been in customer service all my life,” he said, adding that owning a restaurant is his way of expanding his talent into the “real world.”
He said he likes to think of each food option as a personalized project for each customer. “Each meal is a creation, and in time, my own creations will be on the menu too.” Coming up on the menu will be his own chicken Marsala and chicken Francese. He has already added a kids' menu and French onion soup.
Krakowski said he hopes the Grille will develop into a local family restaurant unlike any chain in the area. He also clarified his relation to the attached hotel. “We are not affiliated with Days Inn. We are separate.”
The new chef/owner still keeps in touch with Basil from time to time, and the so-called “Legends” on the menu are just as scrumptious as they were before.
“Bottom line: The food's delicious,” Krakowski said.
Chef John Krakowski recommends the lamb chops, while John Krakowski Jr. recommends the tilapia. The chef says the chicken Siciliano is his favorite creation to make because of its wide array of ingredients.