By Beth Christian Broschart and Chad Clem
ELKINS – Graceland opened its doors Wednesday evening for an open house and food tasting, inviting folks to embrace its fresh ambiance and sample the expanded offerings.
The new dinner menu for Graceland Restaurant, on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, takes its cues from local favorites, fresh ingredients and home-baked goodies.
“We have a new executive chef, Derrick Lantz, who is probably one of the most creative chefs I have seen,” Dr. Carol Carter said. Carter serves as the chair of the college’s Division of Business and Entrepreneurship, which oversees the operations at Graceland.
Carter said the menu has been changed, but a few old favorites are still offered.
Guests may choose from appetizers including jumbo lump crab dip, baked raspberry brie, calamari and sauteed Grand Mariner scallops. The menu offers soup and five types of salad. Entrees feature a variety of pasta, steaks, chicken pork and seafood. Separate menus are available for desserts and lunch.
“We are in the process of using more locally grown produce, making everything a more farm-to-table offering,” Carter said. “We changed our entire wine list and we are serving craft beer.”
Carter said the restaurant is trying to integrate what people have been asking for into the new menu.
“One of the things we have seen with Graceland is that folks think of us only for special occasions,” she said. “What we want is for Graceland to be somewhere you think of going out to eat and knowing you will have a good meal.
“We want everyone to consider us as part of that plan.”
Carter said the main goal of the menu change is to make Graceland a comfortable place with great food and wine.
Dr. Michael Mihalyo, president of Davis & Elkins College, said he is excited about the new menu.
“What we have done is restructure our dining services to allow Chef Mel(anie Campbell) to focus on two of her three loves – the dining services for our students and, beyond that, her teaching,” Mihalyo said. “At the same time, we have been able to give Chef Derrick, who has been a part of the team for a long time, the opportunity to spread his wings and display his culinary talents.”
Mihalyo said there are a lot of new options, hitting every culinary taste point.
“We also worked hard to keep the Graceland favorites,” he said. “We are really excited about the new opportunities on the campus and hope everyone will come by and enjoy their visit to Graceland.”
Many local luminaries made an appearance at the event Wednesday, including Elkins Mayor Van Broughton and Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jess Arbogast.
Graceland is open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; dinner is 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; and Sunday brunch is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are available through Graceland Restaurant Manager Stan Foley by calling 304-621-0661.
Graceland is the former summer home of U.S. Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis and is named after his youngest daughter, Grace.
Today, the historic structure houses an inn and restaurant and serves as a unique learning laboratory for students majoring in hospitality management programs.