Credit: Nadya Chase
The Dudley Chateau: Wayland’s Favorite Hangout
Just on the edge of Dudley Pond sits a Wayland staple, the Dudley Chateau, or “the Chat” as it is more commonly called. For many Wayland residents, the Chat is a perfect restaurant to get together with friends, enjoy food and gaze out at the beautiful scenery of Dudley Pond.
The Dudley Chateau is located at 20 Crest Road in Wayland, and it is open everyday of the week except for Mondays. The kitchen grill is open from noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays, 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant’s fryers close one hour later.
The Chat was built in the 1920s, and then restaurant managers Mandy and Ken Phillips took over 13 years ago. The Phillipses originally took over to maintain the real estate, and they did not expect to actually be the ones in charge of running the restaurant.
“The prior owner had run it for about 25 years and just didn’t have a family member to pass it down to, so he approached me a couple of times, and I [said] no on a few occasions, but ultimately I was just like ‘let’s do it,’” Ken Philips said. “I love the place [and] I want to [continue to] maintain it.”
After the Phillipses agreed to take over, they found a passion for managing the Chat. While they have implemented their own small touches to the restaurant, such as the staff members they have hired and some decorations they have put up, they also believe it is important to allow the Chat to keep the same general characteristics as it had when it was first built.
“The interior is pretty much untouched, and when we do upgrade and update, we try to keep the charm with the old feel [of the restaurant],” Mandy Phillips said. “[There] are [events] we’ve kept as traditions, [such as the Christmas singalong and the night before Thanksgiving,] and [at the same time] we also always try to upgrade and update [the restaurant].”
To many, the Chat is also known as “Wayland’s favorite hangout spot,” as it is a popular restaurant for both young adults and families. Some of the most enjoyed menu items from the Chat include the cowboy burger, the chicken wings, the fish tacos, the shrimp tacos and the onion rings.
“[I recommend the] fish tacos from the Chateau,” sophomore Eleanor Brogan said. “They’re just flavorful enough to not be spicy, but still add enough flavor to a generally blank canvas like fish.”
During the pandemic, the Chat had to make several abrupt adjustments due to COVID-19 protocols. In the early phase of COVID-19, the Chat experimented with only accepting take-out orders and making deliveries through Grubhub and Doordash. The managers of the restaurant also had to deal with the decrease in the food supply and the constantly changing mask mandates, which added an extra layer of difficulty onto their plates.
“I don’t know if you can say we’ve bounced back [from the losses COVID-19 caused],” Mandy Phillips said. “We definitely close earlier than we did pre-coronavirus. We’re [now] closed on Mondays, and it’s hard to find staff to reopen without taxing the people we already have. [But either way,] we have a great community, really good food and a great restaurant.”
The Phillipses would like to thank the community members who have been supportive and loyal to the Chat during, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Phillipses are eternally grateful for the opportunities, love and support their community has provided them with, and consider the community to be their family.
“There are not a lot of venues like [the Chat] where you see people of all different ages and backgrounds come together,” Ken Phillips said. “We pride ourselves in thinking that everyone feels comfortable here and that we put out a good product. I think COVID-19 showed us that people are social animals, and [the Chat] provides a venue for people to get together, so we’re happy that we’re able to do it for the community.”