After a bit of speculation over the past few weeks, the fate of Cafe Fundamental is now clear, as chef and owner Jamie Watson confirms with Eater that he is permanently closing the restaurant. But the space will have new life soon, as he currently has the property under contract to sell to Chicago chef Drew Bryant, who will reopen it as The Porter House Bistro. Watson, who was advised to step back from the project due to health concerns, says that once the decision to sell was made, finding the right buyer was a quick process:
I did not want it public knowledge that I needed to sell Cafe Fundamental, so I made a call to an individual that puts together restaurant deals, off the grid. And after talking to this individual, he said he had the perfect person for the space. Within 24 hours Drew came down here from Chicago and was looking at it. I did not want to sell the restaurant to just anyone, and after meeting Drew, knowing his background and seeing his passion, I knew it was the right move. He was the only one that ever viewed the space.
Bryant, who grew up in the restaurant industry, traded in a career in finance running Merrill Lynch's Germany operations to attend culinary school at the age of 37, graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago in 2004. He then left for Europe before heading back to Chicago, where he worked in several restaurants, as well as spending time as an executive chef for several corporate headquarters and working as a personal chef for "a high net worth individual." On how he picked Nashville for his first solo venture:
I had been searching for a place in either New Orleans or Nashville for a while. I was in the 101st [Airborne Division] out of Fort Campbell, so I had spent time in the city and really liked it, the way of life, and felt there was a great growth opportunity in Nashville. And as soon as I walked into the Cafe Fundamental space, I fell in love with it.
While the restaurant will remain a French bistro, the menu will be a bit more casual than its predecessor, offering lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and brunch and dinner on the weekends. Several house cocktails, as well as wine and beer will be available, and they will have a BYOB policy, with corkage fees planned to be donated to charity.
Bryant says that they are making only minor improvements to the space, such as lightening up the wall color and re-arranging the seating, and plan to open by late August.
· The Porter House Bistro [Facebook]
· Cafe Fundamental Closes, Plans Re-opening on July 12 [-ENSH-]
· All Cafe Fundamental Coverage [-ENSH-]