There's a new neighborhood being constructed downtown, if you haven't noticed, along with the big shiny new stadium. With all of the developement in the area, they've decided to brand themselves as East Town. Bully for them. While a bright logo a kicky new name is important for any new neighborhood, what it really needs is a new bar and eatery to put a point in it and stake a claim.
McKinney Roe just might be that flag jammer. Dermot Cowley, 17-year local restaurateur who owns O'Donovan's Irish Pub, Jake O'Conner's, and Lola's Lakehouse is hard at work staking that claim. He's building out McKinney Roe in the lower level of the 550 Wells Fargo tower with an eyeline straight to the stadium.
In the works since 2014, the restaurant will NOT be an Irish pub like its bretheren, it will focus on contemporary American food. "We have a chance to do something different here, and we have to appeal to a wider audience. We want this place to feel comfortable for both the suits working at the bank, and the jeans & jersey crews that will be coming down for games. Plus all the apartment dwellers in the area will want a comfortable neighborhood gahering space, that's what we want to be: approachable, fun, easy-going," Cowley told me.
It's pretty bare bones right now, but I did see some plans and walk through the space that is being built by Zeman and designed by Shea Architects. Besides the expansive sidewalk patio which will seat about 150, there will be seating inside for about 275 on two levels. The main floor will be dining and bar with a mezzanine level above. Some of the views from this mezzanine will be pretty great once all the trucks roll out. I can imagine a few private parties booking that space.
View from the mezzanine looking South, the floors ARE level, I just ....
The lower level will be anchored on the back wall by a massive bar that reaches to the full height of the space. Clad in dark wood, with a few screens, the full bar will be centered by a spiral staircase that reaches to the top level where a catwalk will lead staff to climate controlled wine and spirit displays. This is not a sportsy sports bar we're talking about. Bar area dining will also include big tufted booths, while the dining room will have a lighter color scape and lead to an open kitchen. "This is our first time working with Shea, and we told David and his team that we didn't want to look like any other downtown restaurant, so we pull inspiration from places in New York and London."
Christian Oxley will be the chef of record, and he's been with Crowley for a while out at Lola's Lakehouse. "He's really done a great job a turning up the quality of the food out there, our sales are up and we couldn't be happier. He's given us a great sense of the new level of food we can bring to this space." The team is menu concepting as we speak, they're testing out menu items so that they can be ready to roll when the neighborhood is. Look for an official opening during the first week of September, but keep your eye out for events that may pop up as the stadium starts bringing people to East Town for concerts and events.