The Coach House to reopen this fall, led by team behind High St. Café

The culinary talents behind High St. Café, which will close in June, are going to be leading the reopening of The Coach House Tavern & Grille at Berkeley Square this fall.

Executive Chef Phil Wong and his wife, Alena, announced on a Friday in mid-March they would close High St. Cafe in early June. Within an hour of that announcement, he was on the phone with Community First Solution’s vice president of Marketing and Community Relations about his interest in joining their team.

Not long after, Brett Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of Community First, was trying to recruit Wong and his High St. Café kitchen team to run The Coach House, which had been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Kirkpatrick said it was “an easy decision” to bring Wong and his crew on board. Wong called Kirkpatrick “humbly persistent” in his recruitment.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“When I saw the news a few weeks ago that Phil was closing down High St. Café, first of all, I was devastated, but second of all, I said, ‘We got to do something with him,’” Kirkpatrick said. “He is loved in the community. He’s so well respected. He’s got such a mission for our community and giving back, which is a lot of what we have and believe in at Community First Solutions. It just made a natural fit for us to work together.”

Community First Solutions, the operators of the independent retirement community off NW Washington Boulevard, announced publicly on Thursday ― and to its staff and residents on Monday ― about the reopening of The Coach House, and the team behind the widely popular High St. Café will operate it.

Wong said he would bring the Chicken Berry Salad to The Coach House, the only thing confirmed on the menu. Kirkpatrick joked that it would be a “deal breaker” if the agreement didn’t include the Chicken Berry Salad. Wong retorted he wouldn’t have come if he couldn’t bring it.

The full lunch and dinner menus, and the Sunday brunch menu, will be announced later this summer, as well as the days and hours of operation.

But the ability to bring his staff was key for Wong, saying sous chef Amy Persinger has been with him for 15 years, and Hope Ellis is “wonderful all around” and will continue with the catering work for the two schools they service.

“Brett and others were very respectful of my wishes on that,” he said bringing his team to The Coach House.

The closure of The Coach House “was a really tough decision,” Kirkpatrick said, but called it “the right decision for us to make for the safety of our residents (and) the community at large.”

It had opened sporadically since the spring of 2020, but he said they’re “ready to get back at it.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Coach House will be open to the public as well as Berkley Square and Westover residents, which Kirkpatrick said was important.

“It’s about living with and supporting our community,” he said. “We see it as a great advantage for the broader community and the residents who live here on campus.”

There will be a few cosmetic changes, as well as some new kitchen equipment Wong requested, but Kirkpatrick said that wouldn’t likely be happening without “a great team” to run the operation. He added that Wong and his team “brings a lot of opportunity for us.”

“He can do everything from a great breakfast to an amazing lunch and the Chicken Berry Salad, and he’s also a butcher by training and executive chef,” he said. “He can really produce some fine-quality dining in the evenings, also.”

Besides the Chicken Berry Salad, Wong said he would look to bring some of the favorites from High St. Café to the menu but wouldn’t say which ones.

“I know what the community likes. We’ve done a lot of trials and error with specials we created down there,” he said, adding that “it’s going to be a little bit different than what we did at the café.”


The team at High St. Café, led by executive chef Phil Wong, will lead the culinary operations of The Coach House at Berekely Square. Here is why he was brought on to lead The Coach House operations:

  • Expertise and credibility: they have a long-standing reputation for quality food and service in the Hamilton Community. Chef Wong has a diverse and extensive culinary background serving as an executive chef for nearly 20 years.
  • Restaurant and catering: he has expertise in both areas, and it aligns with business model of The Coach House. Additionally, they will continue to host private catered events on-site and will look to expand their external catering services under Wong’s leadership.
  • Diverse resume and culinary experience: Wong has catered and managed all facets of restaurant operations. With more than a decade of experience serving as the executive chef at Four Bridges Country Club, he also has catering expertise.

Source: Community First Solutions

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