In 2007, Tim Gilchrist turned 40 years old and was finishing his second decade at the Farmington Country Club. While Gilchrist enjoyed being a manager at the club, he wanted to make a change, to own a business and work for himself.
In 2012, Gilchrist entered his fifth year operating in East Granby along with business partner Doug Loring of Canton.
The restaurant has a comfortable atmosphere that complements a diverse menu. As many of the menu items as possible are made fresh each day and the restaurant makes a concentrated effort to use local ingredients, produce and products.
Gilchrist is personally invested in the food the restaurant serves, using decades of restaurant experience to choose dishes that he and his customers will enjoy.
“Mostly, it’s food that I like to eat,” he said, simply summing up Greenleaf’s varied offerings.
The menu ranges from upscale items including duck and lamb chops to comfort foods like hamburgers and grilled cheese. Popular choices include smoked salmon (Gilchrist’s favorite – “I’m an addict,” he said of the dish), western omelets and stuffed French toast. Greenleaf’s stays away from pizza, which is ably served by many local restaurants including Gio’s and J&G Pizzeria.
Customers have been asking for the pulled pork, recently featured as one of the many special dishes at Greenleaf's, to make an appearance on the regular menu. Cold fruit soups, made with fresh fruit, a carrot juice base and local maple syrup, have appeared this summer. Having already crafted mango and peach soups, Gilchrist wants to try making an apricot or plum version next.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Gilchrist is from the beach community of Charlestown, RI and worked in the area’s large food service industry as he grew up. As an owner-operator, he sometimes has to perform the tasks as he did when he began his career in restaurants.
“I started out washing dishes and I still wash dishes,” he said with a smile.
He came to Connecticut to attend UConn’s law school but decided life as a lawyer wasn’t for him after a few years. A job at the Farmington Country Club followed soon after, where he worked his way up to the manager position.
He looks forward to having satisfied customers and the engaging, constantly changing nature of running Greenleaf’s.
“It makes me feel good when people say, ‘I love your [food].’”
While Greenleaf’s serves turkey, tuna, beef and more, plenty of meat-free options are available. Gilchrist specifically pointed out that the restaurant is vegetarian friendly.
A popular vegetarian dish is the Portobello veggie grill, a meal that meat eaters also enjoy. A whole Portobello mushroom is grilled and served with baby spinach, tomato, red onion, black olives, peppers. Provolone cheese tops the sandwich and holds the many ingredients together.
In deference to a growing gastronomic trend, everything on the menu can be made without gluten except the pancakes and French toast. Gilchrist has even experimented with making gluten-free versions of those items.
Greenleaf’s interior is inviting, a function of the calming green and white color scheme, leafy green plants, comfortable seats and couches, televisions and a small bank of computers available for customer use.
“I wanted it to feel like an extension of your home,” Gilchrist said of the restaurant’s layout.
Gilchrist said he is often asked about the restaurant’s name and logo. They come from his mother’s maiden name, a variation of the French term “feuille verte,” which means green leaf.
Gilchrist also pointed out that the restaurant uses local, organic and sustainable options whenever possible. Area businesses that supply Greenleaf’s include Sweet Wind Farm in East Hartland, Baggott Farm in East Windsor and Glastonbury’s Littel Acres Farm and Gutt Family Farm. The restaurant’s various breads come from Great Harvest Bread in Manchester. Greenleaf’s also separately recycles its cooking oil, regular recyclables, cardboard and food waste.
The restaurant has unique hours: closed Monday, open from 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday for dinner and 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Gilchrist said some computer-assisted analysis of transactions helped him determine the most lucrative times to open his doors, an important concern in the current economy. He isn’t too strict about closing time.
“If people are coming in the door, I’ll stay open,” he said.
For more information about the restaurant, which also offers on-site and off-site catering, visit Greenleaf’s Cafe’s website. Greenleaf's is located at 3 Turkey Hills Road in East Granby.