By Meredith Hoffman and Ben Fractenberg
WILLIAMSBURG — The renowned chef Colin Devlin, viewed as a pioneer in Williamsburg fine dining, was found dead Thursday afternoon in a reported suicide, stunning loyal customers and neighbors of his popular eateries.
Devlin, who owned DuMont Burger, DuMont Restaurant and Dressler (which closed just one month ago), was reportedly found dead, with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, in his car near a cemetery in rural Pennsylvania Thursday afternoon.
Devlin went missing from his Williamsburg home Wednesday afternoon, cops said, and his wife told investigators he had been distraught over his businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“He had received news about being declined for a business loan, and his businesses were in financial decline," the investigators reportedly said.
But to Devlin's customers and neighbors — shocked to learn the news Thursday afternoon — his businesses are two of the most booming eateries in the neighborhood.
"Colin was a wonderful guy...The place is always packed until 1 a.m.," said neighbor Charlie O'Rourke, who has worked doing odd jobs for Devlin. "He has two kids, a baby boy and a girl...He seemed normal, always friendly."
And customer Erich Lochner said the place was so packed when he came recently that he and his friends ate at the bar instead of waiting for a table.
"It's a lovely cute little place," said Lochner, 36, "and all the bartenders are friendly. What a shame."
Neighbor Mario Gallucio, who lives next to DuMont Restaurant, said he helped Devlin move kitchen appliances and furniture into the building when it first opened, and that Devlin had been "so excited" to follow his culinary passion.
"This is so hard to believe," Gallucio, 82, said.
Levi Mandel, 28, who has lived in Greenpoint for five years called the innovator's death "tragic."
"It was like he predicted how Williamsburg would spawn dining establishments. Back then places like that weren't common."
"He brought one of the original fine dinning spots to the neighborhood," Mandel added.
Staff at DuMont declined to comment and some stunned regular clients also declined comment at the eatery, but on social media loyal customers and fellow business owners showed an outpouring of grief.
"Our hearts go out to Colin Devlin's family, friends & staff," wrote Brooklyn Brewery on Twitter. "We'll miss you, friend."
And Caitlin White, who handled social media for Devlin's restaurants, said on Twitter that DuMont "introduced [her] to the idea of food and drink as a culture and passion."
"His restaurants were always a haven for me, and not just because I worked there," she said on Twitter. "Their ability to soothe and please is unmatched in so many ways."