When he was young, Kent Monkan said, he would watch his grandfather, Tony, cook for his family during the holidays.
He said he saw the pride his grandfather had when cooking, and it inspired him to become a chef — a career path he had wanted to pursue since a young age.
Monkan is now opening his third restaurant, the Wild Goose, at 75 Main St. in Port Washington.
“I actually really enjoy the process of starting a restaurant,” Monkan said. “I love the creative aspect of it.”
Monkan said he’s opening a restaurant in Port Washington to keep with the luck he’s had on the North Shore.
“Port Washington seems like it’s own community, and I think I got a great spot right across from the train station,” Monkan said. “I think I tend to gravitate toward train stations when opening restaurants.”
The Wild Goose will open once it receives its permits, Monkan said.
With restaurants opening and closing at 75 Main St. often in recent years, Monkan said he thinks his experience as a restaurateur will help him succeed in the spot.
“Sometimes people come in and start a restaurant, but they don’t know what’s going on,” Monkan said. “It’s a hard business, and you can’t just rely on your staff. You have to be there and run things and you have to know how to identify problems and help people solve them.”
Monkan graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996, and began working at Panama Hatties, a high-end restaurant in Huntington Station.
He worked his way up from line chef to chef de cuisine, he said.
In 2005, Monkan opened his own restaurant, Heirloom, in Locust Valley but sold it after a few rough years.
However, in 2008, Monkan bought Heriloom again and renamed it the Brass Rail.
Monkan opened his second eatery, the Heirloom Tavern, in 2013 in Glen Head, offering a mix of American and Italian cuisine.
Monkan said he follows a simple philosophy when opening a restaurant: Give people high quality food and service for a reasonable price in a nice atmosphere.
For the first few months, Monkan will work exclusively at the Wild Goose, monitoring its progress and working through the menu and continuing the training of the staff, he said.
He will also be the restaurant’s head chef, he said, cooking new dishes.
While Monkan enjoys cooking fresh meats and fish, he said, he loves making sauces. “With sauce, you can play with them and be very creative,” he said.
He said the Wild Goose’s menu is a mix of creative and traditional dishes, and uses local ingredients.
“I think I’ve been getting a little funkier with my cooking,” Monkan said. “I’ve been using some funky ingredients lately, and this menu will feature some of them. You’ll see things from braised rabbit to a selection of burgers and sandwiches and chicken wings. There will be a broad selection of food.”
After opening two restaurants, Monkan said the Wild Goose’s process has been smoother.
“It’s just a less stressful process once you have everything down,” Monkan said. “I knew what permits to apply for and what needed to be done. Opening a business can be very stressful.”
While ripping apart the old restaurant at 75 Main Street, Monkan found a brick wall under old paneling, he said.
“We’re very excited about the brick we found,” he said. “My sister-in-law is an interior designer and my wife helps with it, so they’re going to be giving the place a nice modern country feel to it, and the brick will be really nice.”