The Downtown Grocery in Ludlow celebrated its 10th anniversary on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Ten years ago owners Abby and Rogan Lechthaler from Jackson, Mississippi and Weston, Vermont, respectively, bought 41 Depot Street. They opened their casual fine dining restaurant the week before Christmas focusing on seasonal, of-the-moment ingredients with a blackboard full of daily specials. Using local, house-butchered meat and sustainable seafood the cozy, bistro-vibed spot became a destination for unique experiences in drinking and eating.
After the pandemic forced their closure in early March, The Lechthalers came back in mid- April offering detail-driven take away with curbside pick up. Moreover, with their 5- and 7-year-old kids at their sides and zero employees for once, they’ve found the change of pace incredibly valuable for their young family. They’ve leaned in to this unusual business model shifting to dishes that travel well. “Family Meal”— once meant for staff at pre-meeting before service— is now a four-person event around their own kitchen table at their 1776 Cape in Weston where Rogan grew up and The Lechthalers now live. The kids come to work and hang out in a lounge in the back of the kitchen painting, drawing on the chalkboards, raging with old cardboard boxes in the dining rooms and watching good ol’ Disney Plus. Sometimes they help with prep and certainly do their fair share of taste testing the house made desserts, pastas and bread!
Celebrating the anniversary at a time when so many in the hospitality industry are suffering, the Lechthalers are especially grateful to still be open for business, even though their doors remain locked.
Rogan has cooked at an ambassador’s dinner in D.C. (2011), for Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd at a private dinner party (2012), as a guest chef at the Delta Hot Tamale Festival (2013), at The James Beard Foundation (2013, 2014) and alongside celebrity chef, Tom Colicchio, at the Naples Winter Wine Festival (2019). As one of the top rated restaurants, the Ludlow restaurant was also named one of the top 100 best restaurants in America by the food critics of Us Weekly (March 2019).