Located at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort, Sarazen’s Bar & Grille is like a “hidden gem” within the Braselton community. The restaurant is housed in the resort’s golf club, but it’s open to the public seven days a week. “You’re basically getting a country club experience without the membership price,” said Mark Gallant, director of food and beverage at Chateau Elan Golf Club. “We offer you almost all the amenities you could get at a country club without having to belong. The key word would be that we’re a hidden gem.”
The golf club underwent a $2 million renovation last fall and is now run by Troon, a popular golf management company, “It started off as a smaller renovation, and as we got into the nuts and bolts of the building, the renovation expanded,” said Tim Yavello, club manager at Chateau Elan. “We fully rehabbed the entire building. We just wanted to be able to create an environment where we had a state-of-the-art building with great golf courses as well as a new fantastic bar and grille.”
As part of the renovation, several new features were added to the restaurant, both indoors and out. “Sarazen’s was totally redone with an outdoor deck, firepits and 130-seat restaurant,” Gallant said. “We have a beautiful bar, we have outdoor seating, we have great lighting and great music. We have a wonderful pavilion where we’re doing catering events, sponsored events, weddings—just about any type of function that clientele is looking for.” Gallant said following this remodel, he was hired to help bring up the standards of the new space. “I’ve actually been brought in to bring up the standards of service for the catering as well as the restaurant,” he said, mentioning he began working at the resort about a month ago. “We’re trying to inspire the Chateau Elan culture so we meet the highest standards in the industry.”
He said he’s excited to bring his skills and believes he’s a “strong fit” for the operation. “My family actually had a catering business for 25 years here in Atlanta while I was growing up and then we closed it down in 2005,” he said, mentioning he worked at other restaurants during that time. “And then I went to Aspen, Colo., where I was food and beverage manager for The St. Regis. After a nice little stint with them, I transferred to Jacaranda West Country Club in Venice, Fla., where I took over as food and beverage director.” Following that position, Gallant became club manager at Jacaranda. “My strength is in food and beverage, but I got promoted to club manager, which gives me a lot of insight into the connection between golf and food,” he said.
Since Gallant’s recent hire, Sarazen’s Bar & Grille has already begun to improve, moving from #24 to #7 on TripAdvisor’s ratings of Braselton restaurants in a single month. “The performance of Sarazen’s Bar & Grille has been well beyond the expectations we started with,” said Yavello. “Mark has brought in a level of food and beverage expertise we feel can bring the operation to the next level.” Linda Jackson of Braselton said she enjoys the restaurant’s atmosphere, service and food. “We go monthly,” she said about visiting Sarazen’s with her friends and family. “It’s just a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling when you get in there. I feel like it’s a sense of community. The service is good, and the food’s good.”
Mark said the restaurant’s menu will have some new surprises coming soon, though, as the golf club recently hired a new executive chef. Chris Ertel joined Chateau Elan June 17. “I’ve been in the business going on 20- plus years,” Ertel said, mentioning he’s worked for several other resorts, including Temple Hills Country Club and Vanderbilt Country Club. “I’ve worked for a James Beard award winner. I’ve helped open three different restaurants.” He said his specialties vary and include dishes with different cuts of meats and Southern cuisine. “I have experience with a wide variety of different types of food,” he said. “Mainly I like to focus on steaks, like different cuts of meat. And then just true Southern cuisine—fried chicken, collard greens, just the down-home comfort food.”
Ertel said he’s excited to join Chateau Elan. “I’m excited for the experience,” he said. “I’m excited to bring my abilities and try to mix them in with what they’re currently used to, and then just taking it to the next level. And just challenging myself personally as a chef to continue to improve.” Yavello said he anticipates continued growth thanks to both Gallant and Ertel. “We look forward to seeing how we can move Sarazen’s to the next level,” he said. “We want to continue to advance our reputation, our relevancy in the food and beverage market in northeast Georgia.”