2010-06-17 / News

Bay Voyage to kick off new look, new attitude and new menu

By Erin Tiernan

The Bay Voyage next week unveils a new look and a new attitude. Jamestowners are invited to try the new menu. Photo by Jeff McDonough The Bay Voyage next week unveils a new look and a new attitude. Jamestowners are invited to try the new menu. Photo by Jeff McDonough Forget stuffy airs and a haughty atmosphere – the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn and Restaurant is sailing into the 2010 summer season with a new look and new leadership, leaving behind its sometimesuptight image and charting a path toward a quality, yet friendly dining experience.

The inn closed this winter for renovations, which included a facelift that returned the building to the stylish decadence of Victorian architecture reflecting the time period in the 19th century when the Bay Voyage first opened. The old menu and formal attitudes have been abandoned to make way for an Americana style of service and cuisine that emphasizes fresh, seasonal ingredients and a personalized, more casual dining experience.

The Wyndham Corporation knew it wanted changes at the Bay Voyage, so in February, the company brought in hospitality guru and Jamestown resident Christopher Perrotti to help turn the property back into the gem it has been for generations.

“In changing the concept, we talked about the vision of the restaurant and decided to make it more of a casual place to come to eat – where the quality of food is the same, only the expectation is better because we put a lot of emphasis on service,” Perrotti said.

A Jamestown resident since 2002, Perrotti was a known star on Newport’s hospitality scene.

As operations manager and later, general manager to Newport Yachting Center for 21 years, Perrotti was responsible for a number of successful business ventures, such as the outdoor family skating rink and cultural festivals like Oktoberfest and the Sunset Music Festival. He boosted the company’s profitability by placing an emphasis on value to his customers.

He moved to Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth in 2008, where he managed to turn a struggling property into a profit-making business enterprise in just two years.

With all his accomplishments – and a lengthy list of awards and certifications – you might not guess that all his insight into management and the hospitality industry has been learned entirely through informal education.

Perrotti graduated from Salve Regina University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and religious studies, and then taught at Catholic schools for years before changing course and dedicating himself to hotel and restaurant management.

“I like to say that all my food and beverage experience, I’ve learned on the street through trial and error,” he said.

But Perrotti said the skills he learned in college help him as a manager.

“I love working with the public, I love teaching and I think my greatest gift that I was given is that I’m a great teacher and I use that every day,” he said.

Education and awareness are a big part of making any staff professional, and Perrotti prides himself on his staff – a group of passionate professionals willing to learn and grow with him and the restaurant as they embark on their new path together, he said.

Perrotti is tasked with the job of redefining the inn and restaurant’s images in the community and he said he wants to make the Bay Voyage a spot for everyone to enjoy – a challenge he is eager to fulfill, especially now that his five-minute commute to work gives him a lot more time with his wife and three children.

“For me, the move was defi- nitely a quality of life decision,” he said. “I had always wanted to run a time-share or hotel; it was an easy decision to make.”

The idea of family dining is being incorporated into the new concept, along with affordability and taking full advantage of the property’s resources. Decks and gorgeous views that Perrotti said rival anything you might see in Newport – without the hassle of hordes of tourists and traffic – will enhance diners’ experience at the Bay Voyage.

He envisions a place for locals to sit, eat great food and relax without the suit and tie. For Jamestown, Perrotti said, the Bay Voyage restaurant was once a source of pride, but the staunch formality of the establishment in recent years has turned many locals off to eating there.

“The Bay Voyage had essentially priced itself right out of Jamestown,” he said. “I’m going to bring it back.”

Perrotti’s summer schedule kicks off this Monday, June 21, and he – along with his new staff of culinary experts – has developed some enticing weekly events that Jamestowners won’t want to miss.

The new chef de cuisine, Anthony Ockunzzi, 23, has built a kitchen and culinary staff to be reckoned with, and he already has plans to make it better.

When Ockunzzi applies for his executive chef certification this fall, he said his sous chef and pastry chef will be making moves for improvement as well.

“As part of bringing the restaurant up [in quality], I’m forcing [my staff] to become certified as I’m moving up,” he said. “It’s a really good way for me to keep the right people in the right places because this business will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not ready for it.”

Ockunzzi graduated from Johnson and Wales at Denver just a few years ago, but after training for years with a master chef, he said he has learned a lot and he’ll prove it with his impressive menu, which he’s keeping under wraps until Monday.

He hinted that he uses only the freshest ingredients for delicious seasonally inspired dishes.

“In school, I really got into nutrition,” he said. “I’m very health conscious and just because of the way our world is going, people need to really be aware of what they put into their bodies.”

He wants guests to get the best food and the full experience when they dine at the Bay Voyage – something he said he’s going to have to work toward.

“I’m trying to inspire people to go for the appetizer, intermezzo, entrĂ©e and dessert,” he said. A lot of people don’t – either because of money or because they can’t eat it all, but I want to walk them through that experience because that’s a true dining experience. Right now, this place is just a dinner outlet. I’d like to change that.”

Beginning this Monday, the Bay Voyage will serve dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until close, which is around 9 p.m. Wednesdays will be a night for lobster lovers. Guests can enjoy fresh high-quality seafood without the high price – whether baked, boiled or chef’s choice.

Sunday nights will be all about family. From 5 to 8 p.m. a backyard barbeque buffet, complete with lawn games and live music, will give local families a chance to enjoy Jamestown’s waterfront.

Lunch on the deck on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will also open the waterfront vistas up to the public. Hot breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on these days. Of course, Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. will continue to be a favorite.

Perrotti has created one more new trick to entice locals to try his version of the Bay Voyage: VIP cards. They’re available for anybody local – not just Jamestowners, and discounts don’t apply to buffets or banquets.

Other than the high quality for which the Bay Voyage is known, everything is different – the restaurant’s look, its attitude and its food. Changes, Perrotti said, will give his guests a better value.

“If you haven’t given us a chance lately, or if you had a bad experience a year or two ago, the biggest thing I can tell you is to come in and try us out,” he said. “We’ve changed.”

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