Saturday, December 3, 2011

Highly Acclaimed Chef Opening New Restaurant in Dallas?

Future location of potential new Dallas restaurant.
(Image courtesy of Google Maps.)
You never know who you're going to run into in Dallas, and the person I ran into might say the same about me if he/she reads this blog. I'm referring to a conversation with a random stranger where neither of us spoke much about our own notoriety, but we both recognized that the other person knew good food, and so we had lots to talk about. However, this person revealed tidbits of grandiose-sounding food experiences and details of plans to open a new restaurant in Dallas.

I didn't really take the person seriously at the time ("You want to open a restaurant in Dallas? Uh huh, interesting…"). But the next day I was still wondering how much of what the person had said about their foodie life was true. It occurred to me that I could get creative with a Google search and maybe figure out who this person was and see if the stories matched up.

One Google image search later and I was looking at a page full of photos that are probably a slightly younger version of this person. Image captions provided their full name, and a Wikipedia article revealed this person to be a highly acclaimed chef! Not a celebrity TV chef, but a chef who's cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, earned 3 Michelin stars for their own first restaurant, plus a James Beard award nomination, best new chef award, and features in food publications such as Food & WineGourmet, and The New York Times. This person definitely left these stories out of our conversation, but other info I heard seems to match what I read in articles about this chef's life.

My conclusion is that this person is legit and was telling me the truth:

1. This week they signed a lease to open a new restaurant in part of the old Borders bookstore in uptown Dallas' West Village. The target opening date is currently June 2012. I haven't seen an official announcement yet, so I will keep this person's name and cuisine plans a secret. Hopefully it will be Michelin-delicious!

2. Even more shocking news to me, this person said that next year, Uptown Pub (across the street from this old Borders) may be razed and replaced with a 15-story office building. There, this chef would like to open a second restaurant with a totally different cuisine—the cuisine of his/her native country—one in which we both agreed that Dallas is currently lacking a good representation.

So there's my contribution to the Dallas restaurant rumor mill! If you can confirm or debunk any of this news, please leave a comment. Until then, it's just hearsay from a random stranger passing through Dallas.

Chef Laurent Gras

12/6 UPDATE: "Eater Dallas" guessed who I met, and then got the West Village development manager to confirm that Chef Laurent Gras is talking with them about leasing, although they didn't confirm anything had been signed. Now I'm 100% sure I found the correct Laurent on Google!

12/7 UPDATE: West Village and Laurent Gras tell Eater Dallas the story that was confirmed yesterday was not true; West Village met with some other Chef Laurent. This means I must have met Laurent Gras' identical twin brother, who is also a chef named Laurent. I understand real estate plans can be fickle, but hopefully they work something out.


  1. That old Borders location is pretty big. Even though they're going to partition it, I bet it'll be a spacious restaurant.

  2. Yeah the way he described it sounded like it was going to be huge.