Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Gregory Conlan, owner of Relic on State, believes that these are words to live by.
Relic on State opened its doors this past Memorial Day weekend. Located in the Thornton House - Circa 1754, this beautiful “relic” has quite the history. In 1776 it became home to Captain Francis Murray who is said to have been the most captured officer in the Revolutionary War. However, we locals are familiar with its more recent history as former home to restaurants such as Jean Pierre, The Grotto, Black Horse Tavern and Thyme. Like many, we enjoyed dining at these restaurants and were sad to see them close.
When we sat down with Gregory, we had lots of questions including “what has been done with 'Relic on State' to help ensure its longevity on the corner of State and Center Ave.” Gregory was quick to answer. “The space simply suffered from an identity crisis. When dealing with an historic building, there are limitations to what can be changed structurally, but if designed properly, there are many things that can be done to create a cohesive, intimate experience. When I walked into the building for the first time, my mind was like a projector reel. I had a very clear vision of how to make the space flow!”
We were immediately in awe of the original stone walls and fireplace, the wrought iron staircase and solid barn doors. The modern light fixtures and classic nail-head trimmed leather chairs were sharp additions. The space now boasts a handsome dining room and a sexy bar on each floor making every seat in the house “the place to be.” Patrons need only concern themselves with enjoying Relic’s fine cuisine and/or sipping a specialty craft cocktail. It is safe to say that “Relic on State” has given The Thornton House a clear and exciting identity which is that of a classic New York City style steakhouse!
Conlan, who celebrates 35 years in the restaurant industry, began his career working at a small mom and pop café. This gave him the opportunity to have his hand in nearly everything including learning how to properly purchase and butcher meats. Later, his years as a bartender taught him how to interact with patrons and the importance of building relationships. However, the real “meat and potatoes” (no pun intended) came when he joined a corporate restaurant chain where he delved into the infrastructure and systems, managing volumes, budgets and finances. Gregory further honed his skills while working at a busy Mid-town Manhattan restaurant. “This is where I gained exposure to fine dining and banquets. The restaurant was in the theater district and I, too, was on stage. I quickly learned how to adapt and cater to a diverse crowd and provide each patron with best possible experience.”
“Dining should be relaxing; a time for people to get out, de-stress and reset” He went on to explain that his corporation name, “OPQ, LLC” was derived from the phrase “Only Quality People, Only Quality Products.” This is more than an acronym to Conlan, it’s his motto which is incorporated in every decision including the acquisition of Executive Chef Tannel Howell, former sous chef of Stella, New Hope.
A typical dining experience at Relic may begin by perusing their extensive wine list that offers over 150 bottles from around the world or perhaps sipping a perfectly crafted Old Fashion served classically over a large single ice cube and garnished with a slightly burnt orange rind and a bourbon soaked cherry. Popular appetizers include local creamy Burrata, PEI Mussels, and beet salad. Relic on State proudly serves Pat La Frieda meats that are always a cut above, including their signature Double Bone Berkshire Farm Pork Chop, 2 and 3 lb. Tomahawk Ribeye’s, as well as Farro Island Salmon, fresh grilled Halibut and scrumptious house-made desserts.
Can a restaurant to be casual yet chic, rustic and modern, luxurious while unpretentious, trendy yet classic? We think so. One thing we know for sure is that Newtown is blessed with an incredibly diverse dining scene and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome “Relic on State!”
Reservations are now being accepted on Open Table. Call to book your next private event. Wine and bourbon pairing dinners coming soon! Closed Monday and Tuesday. 101 South State Street Newtown, PA 267-759-6641
Article by Beth Crawford
Originally published in Newtown City Lifestyle