Dining

What We’re Made Of: Restauranteurs – The Mason Family

The culinary scene of Ketchum has become dominated by what locals often jokingly refer to as the “Mason mafia”. The Mason family—comprised of dad Scott, mom Anne, daughter Lyndsey, daughter Adelaide and Adelaide’s husband Nick and two children—have created a lasting restaurant legacy in town through their three restaurants, the Ketchum Grill, Enoteca, and Town Square Tavern. The food scene of Ketchum would truly be a different landscape without the Masons and as their family continues to grow, so too does the family business. 

photo: Adelaide Mason

Scott and Anne arrived in Ketchum in 1988 in a Volkswagen van with a desire for a change of pace. After working in San Francisco together at various restaurants, the two decided they wanted to raise the child they were expecting in a smaller town. “Anne and I both wanted a small town and a family-feel; big cities just don’t have that sense of community like you do here,” explains Scott. After seeing an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle about needing a chef in Ketchum, the couple made the decision to move here. Scott grew up in Eugene, Oregon but would come to Ketchum to ski while growing up. His brother was also living in Ketchum at the time, making the decision to move an easy one. Scott became the chef at Freddy’s Taverne D’Alsace in the historic house that would become Ketchum Grill. In 1991, Scott and Anne purchased the business and started the first of their restaurants. At just 30-years-old at the time, neither Scott nor Anne ever expected they would open more than one restaurant, let alone three in their adopted small town. “It wasn’t until about 15 years after owning the Grill that we realized that there might be room for another place in town,” explains Scott.

Both of Scott and Anne’s daughters grew up in the kitchen—there’s even a photo of 2-year-old Adelaide skewering shrimp at the Grill’s counter while standing on a stool. After leaving Idaho to attend college, both girls slowly made their way back to the family business. “I’ve always been interested in cooking but I never envisioned myself living in Ketchum,” says 28-year-old Lyndsey. “But I moved back and found a space in this town for myself, which is pretty rare. I saw what my parents were doing and how awesome it was for the community.” “We never expected that they would move back,” adds Anne. “I thought they would work for us for a bit and get some money together before moving on to the next part of their lives. But the Valley calls to people.”

photo: Adelaide Mason

In 2012 the family opened Enoteca, an Italian restaurant and wine bar that 30-year-old Adelaide has managed and mostly assumed ownership of over the years. Scott and Anne thought they were done opening restaurants but Lyndsey showed interest in operating her own. The family’s travels—of which there are many!—had recently taken them to the eastern Mediterranean a few times. They enjoyed the food and saw a void for that type in the Valley and thus, Town Square Tavern was born in the summer of 2015.

photo: Adelaide Mason

To catch you up on where everyone stands, Lyndsey is now a manager at the Tavern as well as one of the cooks, Adelaide is manager of Enoteca, Scott is chef and owner for all three restaurants, Anne oversees the baking for all three restaurants, and Adelaide’s husband Nick, who began as a busser at the Ketchum Grill, manages several nights at the Tavern but is also behind-the-scenes for all three restaurants. Operating three restaurants within a family can certainly be quite an experience, having ups and downs. “In some ways, it’s easier,” says Scott. “I can be more open and honest than with employees. It’s also harder because I don’t want them to have to work as hard as I did or as I do.” “It’s really fun,” adds Adelaide. “I love working with my family. We work hard together and then we all like to time off to travel together.” To keep things slightly sane, the family has issued a moratorium on work talk when they’re together as a family, a family that has grown to include Nick and Adelaide’s two adopted children, 12-year-old Giovanni and 9-year-old Mariana.

photo: Adelaide Mason

“It’s been a whirlwind joining the mason family,” says Adelaide’s husband. “The whole family has welcomed me into the family business and put me to work. Scott has been one of my big wine mentors and given me advice on running a small business in general. I feel so lucky that the Masons brought me in and gave me the opportunity to live and work and raise my family in Ketchum.”

photo: Adelaide Mason

Speaking with the entire Mason clan, it’s clear this family can’t imagine operating restaurants anywhere other than Ketchum. “I love the community we live in, the people we get to see, and the relationships we get to create with people who come in,” says Adelaide. “I also like the seasonality; we get totally slammed in the summer and winter and then we get slack off and get to see our favorite locals come in again and get time for ourselves to rest and recoup.” Lyndsey adds, “The support of the local community here is amazing. It’s great having people you create relationships with who will support you and dine at your restaurant.” The Valley’s notorious slack periods allow the Masons a chance to travel as a family, something they do as often as they can taking trips to Japan, Italy, and other amazing food locales in the world. “We travel partly so we can get an education but it’s also always so great to come home,” explains Scott. “Slack lets us live our lifestyles and travel,” adds Lyndsey. “This is one of the only places that affords us that lifestyle.”

As Adelaide and Nick’s kids approach the age where they’re old enough to start bussing tables, the future of the Mason dynasty is on everyone’s minds. Scott and Anne have no plans for future restaurants of their own but the possibility of opening more may just be on the table for Adelaide, Nick, and Lyndsey. “If they decide to open a fourth restaurant, that’s up to them. I’m not going to do it myself, but I’ll help!” says Scott.

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