Arts & Culture

Boise's fine-dining success story State & Lemp gets new owners and chef. Who is it?

Boise fine-dining restaurant State & Lemp will change ownership in July. The dining destination with a regional reputation will now be owned by the team that owns and operates Camel's Crossing in Hyde Park.
Boise fine-dining restaurant State & Lemp will change ownership in July. The dining destination with a regional reputation will now be owned by the team that owns and operates Camel's Crossing in Hyde Park. Idaho Statesman file

State & Lemp, one of the Treasure Valley's most well-reviewed fine dining restaurants, is changing hands.

The new owners — restaurateurs Scott and Caitlin McCoy and their Executive Chef Christian Phernetton — are the team that owns and operates Camel's Crossing, an upscale bistro in Hyde Park that has earned a loyal following since opening last year.

They will officially step into the kitchen on July 1, and then close for nearly two weeks while the place gets a fresh paint job and minor tweaks. State & Lemp will reopen with Phernetton's first menu on July 11.

The McCoys plan to keep Camel's Crossing, at 1304 W. Alturas St., and take it back to its original concept as a quirky, 1970s-influenced wine bar, with light bites and an eclectic cellar, while moving their dinner operation to State & Lemp.

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Camel’s Crossing embraces a throwback style with high-back leather booths in an extended dining area. Its owners are taking over State & Lemp in July. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Don't worry: If you have a reservation, it will be honored. The new owners plan to keep the same hours — and keep the less expensive Saturday Night Supper Club format and pricing through the end of the year.

“We’ll start making incremental changes next year and making it our own,” Scott McCoy said. For now, they want to deliver and build on the standard that chef-de-cuisine Kris Komori and his culinary team established.

When State & Lemp owners Remi McManus and Jay Henry opened at 2870 W. State St., few thought it would work.

In 2013, the idea of exclusively serving a tasting menu with wine pairings that cost upward of $100 per plate seemed a hard sell for Boise and the Valley. But through its savvy aesthetic and the culinary wizardry of Komori, the peninsula property earned a regional reputation and is now a popular dining destination where there rarely is an open seat.

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State & Lemp earned a regional reputation with its interesting combinations that looked as beautiful as they were delicious. Katherine Jones Statesman file

But after close to five years, the S&L team is ready for a change, Henry said.

“We need to grow,” Henry said. “We’ve been doing the same thing for almost five years in that same spot, and we have a lot of young, super-ambitious people on our team champing at the bit to go and do something different.”

The McCoys are ambitious, too.

The couple moved from Portland in 2016 after their son was born. Scott has a background in restaurant service and always dreamed of owning his own place. Shortly after Camel's Crossing opened in September 2017, its menu expanded from light bites to full dinners, plus a tasting menu, which is one of Phernetton's specialties. He grew up in Idaho and started working in restaurants under Chef Peter Schott. He spent years cooking and farming in Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Virginia before returning in 2016.

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Chef Christian Phernetton's Moulard duck breast with red kuri squash and wild rice. Darin Oswald Idaho Statesman file

Phernetton made an impressive culinary debut in Hyde Park with an inventive menu, but Camel's is hampered by a kitchen that was never intended to be used for a full-scale restaurant. The trio had been looking for a second, larger location since they opened, Scott McCoy said.

Henry and McManus got wind of those plans and reached out to see whether the Camel's group would be interested in taking over State & Lemp.

"It was really serendipitous," Caitlin McCoy said.

Phernetton and the McCoys started producing wine dinners upstairs in the Adelmann Building at Capitol Boulevard and Idaho Street earlier this month, and plan to open a catering company.

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The new owners of State & Lemp - Scott and Caitlin McCoy, right, and Executive Chef Christian Phernetton - are the team that owns and operates Camel's Crossing, an upscale bistro in Hyde Park. They prepare their new 6,000-square-foot garden, where they will grow produce for Phernetton's hyper-local menus. Katherine Jones kjones@Idahostatesman.com

They also intend to make this next iteration of State & Lemp Boise's first true farm-to-fork restaurant. They have established a 6,000-square-foot garden at Fairview Avenue and North Five Mile Road, where they will grow produce for Phernetton's hyper-local menus. He is having a local farmer raise a flock of ducks that will be featured on his opening menu.

"We planted 132 tomato plants last night and will probably plant some more," Scott McCoy said.

From the beginning, change was intended to be part of State & Lemp's formula, Henry and McManus said.

"Everything was always going to be in flux, from the menu to the art on the walls," Henry said. "This is just another step in that evolution."

Still, handing the restaurant over to someone else is bittersweet, McManus said.

"We built the space with our own two hands, and our hearts and souls," he said. “I’m super thankful to all the people who helped us get where we are. This isn’t a jab to the community that we’re taking the money and running away or anything. Hopefully it will continue to grow and change.”

McManus, a former pro cyclist, and Henry, a chef and restaurant manager, met and honed their culinary chops working under chef Jon Mortimer at his Mortimer's and Franco Latino restaurants in Boise and Eagle. They spent a few years being chefs guerrilla-style in people's homes and in pop-up spaces before opening State & Lemp. When they met Komori, who had moved to Boise from Portland, the group clicked and they had their culinary team.

Right now there are no concrete plans, Henry said, except for some creative rejuvenation. He and his wife plan to travel through Spain this summer. McManus and filmmaker Justin Balog plan to traverse Iceland from its most northern to its southern tip in August. Komori plans to spend time with his wife, Allyson, a doctor at St. Luke's, and their 2-year-old son.

State & Lemp

2870 W. State St., Boise

Hours: 7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday (Supper Club)

Price: $80 per plate, $30 for wine pairing

Reservations: 208-429-6735, stateandlemp.com

Camel's Crossing

1304 W. Alturas St., Boise

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Reservations: 208-385-0250, camelscrossing.com

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