By Beth D'Addono | NOLA.com
Chef Pat Gallagher needs to take his own advice.
“I need to rest a while,” says Gallagher, whose latest project is the recently opened Pat’s Rest A While on the Mandeville lakefront. “I think I’m done.”
“It’s big,” he says of the restaurant, which between its buildings can seat 120 indoors and another 150 in outdoor spaces.
Pat’s Rest A While occupies a raised complex of 19th-century buildings on the lakefront, with bars and porches and decks akimbo, all with terrific views of the lake. A shade sail recently installed over the largest outside deck brings needed cover to the stream of customers. The concrete, ground-level space under the buildings now is home to a screened-in boil room and a bar complete with water bowls for the dogs and a bike pump available for use.
This is the latest from the Covington native, who operates restaurants including Gallagher’s Grill and Pat Gallagher’s 527 Restaurant & Bar in Covington and Gallagher’s restaurants in Mandeville and Slidell. He also has Band’s Grocery, a vintage-market-turned-sandwich-shop in downtown Mandeville. His right-hand man is company chef Mark McInnis, who also is the chef de cuisine and menu co-developer for Rest A While.
Gallagher wanted the menu to be approachable for families, with options including po-boys, burgers, salads and a kids’ menu. There’s also an outdoor raw bar where char-grilled oysters always are available.
“Chef Mark and I talked long and hard about it,” Gallagher says. “We wanted the feel of old West End, with fried oysters and shrimp platters, but we knew there’d be expectations from the other restaurants, so we feature more elevated dishes too.”
The menu includes cedar-plank cooked redfish, a ’90s throwback that adds smoky flavor on top of the citrus-horseradish crust and lemon butter sauce. Gulf fish amandine is one of the best versions around, with meaty fish topped by jump lump crabmeat, sliced almonds and brown butter sauce. Steak lovers can choose a marbled rib-eye or a marinated hanger steak with fries and garlic aioli. There’s a wedge salad, oyster Rockefeller soup and thin-cut onion rings marinated in Crystal hot sauce.
“It’s upwards of $60 or $70 to eat at the other restaurants, but you can eat here for $25,” Gallagher says. “We wanted the prices to be affordable.”
The old Rest A While long had been part of the landscape, for a period serving as a retreat for families in need. The buildings were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Local real estate developers Jill and Barrett McGuire bought the property in 2014, and eventually gained support for their plan to redevelop it as a restaurant. Gallagher got involved in the restaurant project in 2019.
“I ran into Barrett’s brother David, and he got us together,” Gallagher says.
Opening after a year of pandemic restrictions has been the latest challenge.
“The supply chains are so very difficult to get all the product we need,” Gallagher says. “My wife and I made the decision a few years ago to offer health insurance for our people. That has enabled us to keep some really good people. We really didn’t lose anybody, and the PPP money let us pay them during the six weeks we were closed.”
Leading a winning team is something he thanks his father for every day, Gallagher says.
“I’m so thankful I got to tell my dad how much he taught me before he passed,” he says.
Gallagher’s family name is well known St. Tammany Parish. His grandfather was a physician who co-founded St. Tammany Hospital and was the parish coroner. His dad Hubie Gallagher was a hall of fame football coach who has a park named for him.
“He had a lifetime of building teams, being a leader, getting new people to buy into a program,” Gallagher says. “I watched him do that, and it’s my inspiration.”
Pat’s Rest A While
2129 Lakeshore Drive, Mandeville, (985) 951-2173
Dinner Wed.-Sat., lunch Sat.-Sun.
Dine-in and outdoor seating available.