News broke early last week that Parasole was crowd-surfing approval for the name of a new restaurant planned for Uptown. This is the first time they've ever done that, but then again, this is the first time they've ever launched a Tim McKee restaurant.
Our first local James Beard Award winning chef has long been associated with restaurants like La Belle Vie (perhaps the top fine dining venue in town), Sea Change, Smalley's, and the like, but since June of 2011 he has also been the VP of Culinary Development for Parasole. So while they've been working together for a while, this new restaurant strikes a new path for both.
"This has been a long time in the works," McKee told me before he left for an eating trip in Argentina. McKee's original intent for joining the company was to partner up and open restaurants. "They've got muscle, and infrastructure which I've never really had. Finding that stability was important to me, having people with knowledge in training and marketing is invaluable."
But Parasole has a strongly flavored personality, fueled by head honcho Phil Roberts, can we really call this a Tim McKee restaurant? McKee says yes, "I'm super glad Phil let me direct this project. It's a real collaboration, but it's 100% my own concept and menu, and I have hand-picked the management team." This is a big departure for the company which has focused on creating casual dining concepts crafted with an often wry tone, but serious attention to detail.
So what exactly is McKee's concept? He's staying tight-lipped for the most part, saying that it will be dinner only with a strong bar component. He would not confirm nor deny the actual location, but if it's not revealed as an overhaul of the flagging Cafeteria space, I will eat my lip balm.
This is big people, a game changer. A James-Beardian comes to Uptown just when you thought it was going to devolve into a slate of beer bars for Dude Bros. And Parasole passes the baton on a neighborhood they have historically helped define. Change is good.
Stay tuned for more info as I wring it out of them.