Durham Springs, offering a thrilling new concept with its dual personality and a lavish nod to both tradition and modernism, is set to open this fall.
Partners Dan Fehlig and Ian Humphreys have captured Durham’s natural beauty and the sophisticated elegance of world-class dining in what they are calling a culinary event center designed for weddings and other celebrations. It is tucked away in the Durham hills and overlooks 33 acres of sprawling lawns and cascading spring-fed ponds.
For good measure they’ve tossed in a separate restaurant, Cascade, the Restaurant at Durham Springs. It’s meant to pay homage to a revered 20th century landmark once owned by the Knuth family.
Both facilities are situated in a 16,000-square-foot expansion/renovation of the original 1730s farmhouse, once home to the old Cascade Lodge at 5065 Lehnenburg Road. The farmhouse has been lovingly restored.
The coming-together of his plan of “coming home” reflects Fehlig’s memories of dining at Cascade Lodge, which he termed as “once the go-to dining place for Bucks and people from the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and New York.” Fehlig and Humphreys have lived in Lower Saucon for more than 20 years and are thoroughly familiar with this area.
With work by Jerdon Construction Services of Allentown nearly complete, Fehlig and Humphreys are looking toward a “soft opening” of the restaurant sometime next month, with a more formal opening celebration for both facilities in November. That will benefit two charities, one from the Delaware Valley and one from the Lehigh Valley. The specific charities and dates have yet to be announced.
The restaurant, in the same building with the banquet facilities, but completely separate, will be open to the public five days a week even when private events are scheduled. A separate entrance to the first-floor restaurant, which will seat about 60, is on the old kitchen porch. Humphreys will greet guests as they enter. A wheelchair lift at that entrance will provide access to the second floor event center.
Francesco Martorella, who once worked at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia and other well-known restaurants, is executive chef. A mixologist will prepare craft cocktails. Fehlig said he plans to use products provided by local merchants as much as possible.
In the old restaurant area, some nostalgic touches will remain: the original captain’s chairs that have been restored, for example. The walls of The Pub, with its 10-seat bar as well as banquette seating, feature the original barn siding and will bear old framed photos of the lodge. Some of the original furnishing will provide a bit of nostalgia in various rooms of the farmhouse.
The menu will be built around American artisan cuisine. “We plan to offer fine dining without an extravagant price,” Fehlig said. “We want people to come once a week and feel comfortable.”
The Cascade will also house a small private dining room, The Spring Room, for up to a dozen diners. A glass wall will showcase a wine cellar in a room where diners once selected their own trout from an exposed spring. Fehlig said the spring will maintain a natural constant 52-degrees, a perfect temperature for the wine.
He said private wine lockers will be available for those diners who choose to provide their own wines. The restaurant will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event center occupies the second floor and will accommodate about 300 guests but was designed for flexibility and can be divided into two sections for two separate events. There’s a large dance floor and a wall of windows overlooks the property, a handsome backdrop for weddings and other gatherings. Outdoor weddings can also be scheduled.
“We want planning for a wedding to be fun and we can design any kind of wedding a bride could want – and we want to pamper her,” Fehlig said.
There’s a special fully equipped suite where the bride and her attendants can spend the entire day of the wedding. It includes the 1730s parlor where the bridal party can relax, a kitchenette, a private bathroom, a dressing room and a complete hair-styling salon.
In addition to all the on-site activities and amenities, the catering business, Fehlig’s first love, goes on. Durham Springs also will provide in-home catering services and has already scheduled two bookings.