Back in July, Kitchen LTO, the "permanent pop-up" concept at Trinity Groves that swaps out chefs and menus every few months, closed abruptly.
"It's funny — we thought that was gonna be good," Phil Romano told the Observer in August when talking about the concept. "It worked in the beginning then it just wasn't doing the business. It was losing money."
After the closure, owner Casie Caldwell launched a Kickstarter campaign to reopen the restaurant in Deep Ellum. With a $50,000 goal, LTO raised only $16,000 on the crowdsourcing website itself, but says she met her fundraising goal outside of the website.
Caldwell announced that LTO will, indeed, relaunch next week in Deep Ellum, opening for dinner Tuesday at 2901 Elm St. in the space formerly occupied by Twenty Seven. The restaurant will be open for dinner (5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday) and brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday), with lunch forthcoming, Caldwell says. The restaurant will swap out chefs, concepts and artwork every six months, but unlike at the original installation, diners won't vote on which chef comes next. The new space will feature an open kitchen — these days, it's far more rare for a concept to open without an open kitchen — and "is intimate and purposely designed like a gallery which will allow the chefs’ food and artists’ work to be the star of the show," according to a press release.
The executive chef on tap for the first six months: Josh Harmon, formerly of Grace, Milk & Honey and Main Street Bistro & Bakery in Grapevine. A few dishes on Harmon's new menu: crispy poached egg, fried green tomato, Korean sticky duck leg and fried garlic chicken, obvious nods to Harmon's background working with Southern fare. Apparently Dallas has still not reached critical mass on Southern food.
In its second iteration, the rotated artwork will have more prominence, Caldwell says. "More emphasis will be placed on artists than before with Ellie Visconti serving as art curator for Gallery LTO," she says. "Visconti, a 15-year veteran of the Dallas design and art scene, has chosen Melissa Ellis to be the first featured artist. Ellis is a native Texan and East Dallas resident specializing in abstract and contemporary nature oil paintings. Her bold use of color is apparent in all of her work, from large-scale heavily textured abstracts, to delicate paintings of flowers, plants and trees."
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Will LTO succeed in Deep Ellum even if the concept didn't work in Trinity Groves? There's certainly a lot of competition in the neighborhood, particularly when it comes to Southern fare, but Caldwell is optimistic.
“I think Deep Ellum is perfect for a chef-driven restaurant with raw and rising talent in an area of our city that is especially supportive of independents and artistic endeavors," she says.
Take a look at the first round food menu:
Kitchen LTO opens 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 2901 Elm St.