JUST IN: Local chef to open new restaurant in 2nd Street Market

The Five Rivers MetroParks 2nd Street Market is adding a new restaurant vendor who has helped develop dishes at some of Dayton’s best-known restaurants.

Invoke, founded by brothers Lester and Larry Gates, will open in early February in the market space that previously housed Arepas Colombian Comfort Food, which closed its market eatery in late 2017.

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Lester Gates has worked in several positions in the kitchens of several Dayton-area restaurants for the past eight or nine years, including a brief stint at the now-defunct l'Auberge and Sidebar restaurants, and at Salar Restaurant & Lounge, Taste Creative Cuisine, Lucky's Taproom & Eatery and Hilton Garden Inn. He also offers private catering as Lester's Kitchen.

Gates said he felt opening a restaurant at the downtown Dayton market will allow him to showcase his skills and boost his visibility.

“I wanted to find a way to establish myself,” Gates said. “I want to show Dayton what I’m ready to do.”

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Invoke will be a full three-day-a-week vendor, and when the market expands its hours this June to Thursday through Sunday, Invoke’s hours will expand as well.

The menu will rotate with the seasons, and ingredients will be sourced locally, Gates said.

Invoke’s menu will include classic brunch items such as chicken and waffles — in this case, the waffles will be made from sweet potatoes — along with Eggs Benedict and BLT sandwiches. There will be several vegan options offered, including a BLT with tofu bacon, a “carrot dog,” and vegan cookies and cheesecake, Gates said.

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Gates, a Middletown native, said he and his brother have worked in the food-service industry separately for several years.

“We’re coming together to serve high-quality, simple food that’s approachable,” he said.

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