St. Amand Kitchen reopens after some upgrades

When Ken and Lynn Morrow joined the ownership group of St. Amand Kitchen and Cocktails in 2018, they oversaw its transformation from an earlier eatery. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

An Ocotillo landmark restaurant is open again after shutting down for a little more than a month to make some upgrades.

The owners of St. Amand Kitchen and Cocktails in Ocotillo have added more shade to their outdoor dining area, and improved its private dining area.

There has been a restaurant at the corner of Ocotillo and Alma School roads for 17 years. For most of its life, it was known as D’Vine Bistro & Wine Bar. Ken and Lynn Morrow joined the ownership group in 2018 and oversaw the transformation to St. Amand, who is the patron saint of beer, wine and fine food.

“We shut down for a refresh for about six weeks or so,” Ken said. “We extended the patio out to what it is now, and redid the back dining room floor, and then redid the panels going around the back that way.”

They also made some changes to the menu, replacing items that aren’t ordered as much with new dishes they hope will be popular.

“It was changed dramatically when we first took over from D’Vine to St. Amand,” Lynn said. “We kept all the favorites, … so it’s relatively the same. We have a new executive chef, and that’s been wonderful.”

Ken said it wasn’t an easy decision to shut down just as they were picking up steam from the pandemic.

“Very difficult and not cheap,” Ken said. “We had our reasons for doing it, and they’re paying off. The patio extension is the best thing to come out of it.”

Before, the shade on the outdoor patio was limited. By adding more cover, most diners are not out of direct sunlight except for when the sun sets late in the afternoon. They’ve added some curtains to keep the sunlight out of diners’ eyes.

“Everyone who comes back here says, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad the patio is extended, there’s more shade, more insulation from the weather,” Lynn said. “Hopefully, that means we’ll be able to extend it through the summer a little bit longer with more shade.”

It was the second time they’ve had to close down since changing the name. The first came when the government ordered a shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ken said despite that, they were able to pay their employees during the nearly two months they were shut down.

St. Amand remains one of the few places in South Chandler that has live entertainment on the weekend.

“Right here in Ocotillo, we’re it,” Ken said.

Lynn said in the heart of Ocotillo, the choices are limited to St. Amand and The Living Room. St. Amand usually has up to three performers and The Living Room relies on just one person or a DJ, she said.

Ken and Lynn said the secret to their success in the restaurant business is to hire great people, and then get out of their way.

“Our day jobs are not restaurateurs,” Ken said.

“The smaller you are, the more important your people can be,” Lynn said. “We invest in our people.”

Ken owns a general contracting business and Lynn works at a biotech company. They got interested in owning a restaurant because they live in the neighborhood and were regular patrons of D’Vine.

“We don’t come here to micromanage,” Ken said. “We let people do their jobs. We come here to relax and get away and to be with the community as well.”