CHESHIRE — Markus Patsch, owner and chef at The Watch Factory Restaurant, cracked eggs for a traditional Austrian chocolate cake on Tuesday in between taking calls from possible buyers.
He’s in his 24th year of offering Austrian cuisine to customers and is looking to retire from a demanding but rewarding profession. The Watch Factory Restaurant is for sale and has garnered some interest, Patsch said.
He came to the United States from his hometown in the Kitzbühel Alps more than 40 years ago as entertainer Victor Borge’s personal chef and lived at his Greenwich estate. In 1975, Patsch opened his own restaurant in Massachusetts and since then has been in the restaurant business.
After making countless Sacher cakes, schnitzel dishes and marinated beets, the chef said he still enjoys cooking each of the dishes he offers. Patsch also enjoys his customers and restaurant staff, most of whom have been with him for many years.
“I think it’s a wonderful profession,” he said Tuesday. “I am very pleased that my colleagues were with me for so many years.”
One of those colleagues, waitress Diane Billings, has been at the restaurant for 16 years. She called the staff “a family.”
“I ate here so often they offered me a job,” Billings said.
Patsch, who travels several times a year to ski and visit relatives in Austria, plans to spend more time with his grandchildren once retired, as well as take “a long rest.” For the past decades his work day has started at 9 a.m. and run until 11:30 p.m. or even 1 a.m. on weekends.
“A lot of people underestimate the restaurant business,” Patsch said. “They see the glory in the restaurant business but don’t see the hard work and dedication you need to make it work.”
“You have to love and know what you’re doing, otherwise it’s very frustrating,” he said.
Yetta Augur, Cheshire Chamber of Commerce president, praised Patsch and his restaurant – the site of the chamber’s annual Oktoberfest gathering. Augur said the chef was a generous sponsor in town.
She said Patsch – and his food – will be missed.
“Every dish was special,” Augur said. “Everything that he did, he did great.”
Patsch’s recipes could be part of the sale, he said. Patsch doesn’t expect to take on more chef work after retirement, except for parties for family or friends.