By Harley Richards – Red Deer Advocate
Published: September 08, 2008 7:40 PM

They worked on the rigs for years and developed a landscaping business together — but food was always on the minds of Dwayne and Darren Gauthier.

Now the twin brothers are satisfying their culinary craving in a big way.

The Gauthiers own and operate Restaurant 27, a name that reflects the age of the pair when they opened the door to their 4819A 48th Ave. business in January.

There, they’ve been focusing on fine dining, with a Red Seal chef serving up the likes of trout, duck and quail.

Wines run as high as $120 a bottle, and live music adds to the ambiance on some nights.

The decision to offer upscale dining was made with some caution, acknowledges Dwayne.

“Our first menu was very, very neutral,” he said, listing chicken, beef, pork, halibut and salmon as the entree items.

“Once we got people comfortable with that, we took our second menu and we brought out a couple more entrees with duck and lamb and on and on.”

Restaurant 27’s third menu is even more adventurous, and the brothers think this strategy has been the right one.

“That was our biggest challenge was to get people to come in the door and give it a go,” said Dwayne. “Once they give it a go, they love it.”

Born in Medicine Hat, the Gauthiers moved to Newfoundland when they were three. Sixteen years later they returned to Alberta, with Dwayne enrolling in the culinary arts program at NAIT.

“I wanted to be a chef as long as I could remember,” he said.

Dwayne worked in hotels, managed an Earls restaurant, bartended at Red Deer’s East 40th Pub and helped open The Lighthouse Bar and Grill in the city before the lure of money in the oilpatch pulled him away.

Darren was already there, although he said he always shared his brother’s passion for cooking.

The brothers worked in the energy sector for the next six years, but periodically discussed the possibility of opening a restaurant. When fatherhood convinced Dwayne to leave the patch, he turned to landscaping — with Darren and a younger brother joining him.

Late last year, while cutting hedges in downtown Red Deer, Dwayne noticed that Café La Cucina was for sale.

“When I walked in, all I saw was potential,” he said

Darren shared his enthusiasm, but friends and family were a little skeptical.

The brothers bought the business, gutted its interior and rebuilt from scratch — a do-it-yourself project that took most of their time and money.

“We mortgaged both of our houses, we mortgaged everything in our landscaping company,” said Dwayne.

They opened on Jan. 12, with Dwayne cooking and Darren serving. Soon after, Cody Loewen, now a Red Seal chef, helped assume responsibility for the kitchen.

Today the Gauthiers employ seven servers and a kitchen staff of eight, including a dishwasher.

Their landscaping company — Urban Lawn and Landscape Ltd. — continues to operate and now employs eight. Darren oversees much of the work there while also spending much time at the restaurant.

Restaurant 27 is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Saturday, with “lighter fare” selections available at lunch. Prices for entrees range from about $15 to $35.