Stephan Courseau had to consider what to do with his three restaurants last March. These were not three locations of the same menu, but three different concepts on the western side of Knox-Henderson.
Le Bilboquet, Up on Knox and Georgie by Curtis Stone closed in March. Bilboquet reopened (later than other restaurants in the city, closer to when 50% capacity was permitted) while Up on Knox and Georgie combined and whittled down a menu for takeout out of The Georgie Butcher Shop.
Come Sept. 1, Courseau’s team takes a step toward the “new normal” as both Georgie and Up on Knox reopen their dining rooms.
“At Bilboquet, we had the same team for seven years … we tried to keep as many people as I could still on payroll,” Courseau says. “I won’t lie to you, they were eager to stay on unemployment with the benefits that were so high. That was very difficult for all of us in the restaurant business.
“We couldn’t really be mad at them, it was just the way it was.”
They had people who chose not to return — some people moved, others got out of the restaurant business altogether.
One big shift was that Toby Archibald, executive chef at Georgie, decided to leave the kitchen. His dishes that filled the dining room in February were pretty phenomenal, and if you got the chef out to your table, you could hear a pleasant story about how a dish took him back to collecting clams in New Zealand.
“It’s not for everyone to be working in a kitchen that has the name of another chef on the restaurant,” Courseau says.
But he’s excited about the new team coming in, a husband-and-wife duo from California, executive chef Jason Rohan and executive pastry chef Alexis Rohan. The two previously worked at Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant and Maude.
With them comes a whole new menu for Georgie.
“The menu has been restructured in the sense that when we opened, it was full and we were really entering almost the winter, so everything was heavier; now we have a lot of dishes that are very very summery,” Courseau says. “I wanted the new chefs to be able to create their own menu, the concept of the restaurant is to always change in terms of dishes; I said take your time. Steak tartare was a big deal [on the previous menu], don’t just put a steak tartare because you think we need a steak tartare.”
They did end up creating a steak tartare dish, by the way, and Courseau’s voice exudes excitement when talking about it. The same tone comes out when he discusses a mozzarella dish with bright tomatoes and okra or the gently sweet corn ravioli.
Up on Knox is reopening its dining room with a new menu, too. There, expect dishes such as asparagus risotto, roasted beet with house ricotta and grilled salmon with mint yogurt.
Bilboquet will keep going on as it has been; it had the advantage of expanding on spacious front and side patios.
“All we did was we removed some tables, we spaced them out and people felt very, very safe. We have also been very, very strict on following those regulations. We tested all of our staff and got immediate results,” Courseau says. “…It’s been OK, except around July 4, that’s always the slowest time. There were probably two or three weeks where the numbers were disappointing.
“Bilboquet has stood strong since we reopened, so it's a pretty good indication that the loyal base that we have is still there, and we’ve had so many requests of Georgie and Up on Knox.”
Courseau says every bit of support from customers helps. Being a patron of your favorites these days is more important than ever — Courseau and his wife are getting Khao Noodle Shop for takeout weekly.
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“I feel we’re in a good place. Dallas is one of these places where the community is really strong, it really backs you up,” he says. “We were able to weather the storm.It’s obviously going to be a black year, but … it is what it is. There is much worse than us.”
Georgie by Curtis Stone, 4514 Travis St., No. 132 (Knox-Henderson). Reopens Sept. 1: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The Butcher Shop, on the east side of the restaurant, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Up on Knox, 3230 Knox St., No. 140 (Knox-Henderson). Reopens Sept. 1: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Le Bilboquet, 4514 Travis St., No. 124 (Knox-Henderson). Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.