CampO Modern Bistro is Closed, the Space Will Undergo a Makeover

Both Escape Hatch and Eater have reported that CampO Modern Bistro, which opened in August 2011, is now boarded up and locked down as of last night. Owners Miguel Vicéns and John Paul Valverde of Coevál say that Dallas didn’t latch onto their farm-to-fork focused restaurant as well as they’d hoped, and now the North Cliff eatery’s space is undergoing a redesign. The owners plan to open the new restaurant in 45 days.

“It’s bittersweet,” says Valverde. “Obviously, we know the amount of work that we’ve put into CampO. We’re not crossing our hands and saying we’re giving up. We’re seeing what a big mass of people loves versus what a small, wonderful crowd loves.”

Matt McCallister, the execuchef of CampO when it first opened, had just gotten off the phone with Valverde when I rang him up. Valverde broke the news to him today, so he hadn’t known that a new concept had been in the works for the last four weeks. “I hope whatever concept they’re working on they get success out of it,” he says. But right now, McCallister is focused solely on his baby, FT33, and he hasn’t been in the CampO loop lately. The owners say they just had lunch with the most current execuchef, Michael Ehlert, today, and the split has been amicable.

As for the new concept, Valverde and Vicéns are still kicking around ideas and finalizing all the details. Valverde says the new restaurant in the North Beckley space will  have “casual, approachable cuisine.” They’re going to “shoot for having grade-A products just like (they) did at CampO.” Local ingredients, quality food, and the rest of the whole nine yards. From the sound of it, the concept is going to be completely different from CampO’s. The Coevál team wants to reach a bigger demographic, so presumably, its going to cater more to what the majority likes. And what the majority likes… well, isn’t CampO.


  • InsideEdition

    I’m surprised they remained open that long. Approachable food is the lesson they learned

  • Bad Design

    What was ironic about Campo was that the owners tout themselves as restaurant designers, yet the design was quite amateurish. Matt did a fine job with the food, bud the design was simply horrible. The fabric on the walls (which arguably should never have been there) was puckered – a lot. Seriously, this was like middle school designers. The chairs were horribly uncomfortable. They were so bad that we just stopped dining there even though we enjoyed the menu Matt developed. I hope they hire professional designers to design for the design posers for the next concept.

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  • Wes

    I liked the design.

  • Foodies in Dallas

    Heard the chef Michael Eilert ram this into the grind as well… O for life…

  • Your mom

    Finger puppet strikes again…..

  • Good Design

    Not sure what “Bad Design” is talking about with his(her) idiotic comment but the Campo space is, or was very simple and clean and well put together. Is not a easy thing to accomplish simple design and make it feel good. I think they did a great job with the restaurant and I am sad to see them closing. It’s probable not a easy restaurant to run with the caliber of food the kitchen was preparing.
    Looking forward to visiting the next space.

  • Borborygmus

    How do you make a small fortune in the restaurant biz? Start with a large fortune.

  • HR

    Place went down hard and fast once McCallister walked out the door. Stay tuned for FT33. Y’all have no idea what this guy is capable of. McCallister is going to put Dallas on the map for foodies worldwide. People are going to be mentioning him in the same breath with Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz, and Jose Andres.

  • joeat

    Sounds very promising but who in the hell are Ferran Adria, Grtant Achatz and Jose Andres? How pretentious can you possibly get? . Talk about phony! I was born and raised in Dallas. Do the names Roger Yelps, Adrian Forbes and Stuart Hombr mean anything to you? Well good, neither do they to me you being so phony I am sure they do to you. What a total fraud.

  • Borborygmus

    There is so much more to a successful restaurant than good cooking. Sigh.

  • Golfnfashion

    HR is not being pretentious. The chefs mentioned get worldwide acclaim and HR is simply suggesting that Matt McCallister is capable of the same type of dining experience as those mentioned provide. Do your homework, joeat. None of them are phony.

  • Bill

    Just because Matt McAllister may be capable of that (cooking like Adria, Achatz, etc.) doesn’t mean that’s what Dallas wants or will support after a big grand opening. It will take a lot more than “fancy” cooking and molecular gastronomy and food architecture to keep people coming in on weeknights, weekends, celebrations — after a year. Anyone remember David Garza? Exactly. I’ve seen McAllister’s plating – it’s so unapprochable and so UNdelicious looking, I don’t know who’ll be dying to dine there on a Tuesday when they’re just looking for excellent food. I’d rather go to Bolsa!

  • Bill

    Take a lesson from the Badovinus Bible – people just want delicious, approachable basic food (albeit prepared with great skill), a space and staff with personality, and comfortable ambience.

  • HR

    Art isn’t for everyone, Bill. You’re right about that. There are lots of people in Dallas who want ginormous portions of mac & cheese, Kobe beef sliders, and molten chocolate cake, and there are lots of chefs who will give it to them. McCallister is bringing Dallas to the next level. It won’t be for everyone, just like WD-50 and McCrady’s weren’t for everyone in NYC or Charleston. But FT33 is going to get that kind of attention from the same kind of food lovers and critics – nationally.

  • Bill

    WD-50 survives because Manhattan has enough traffic to support it: first time visitors, food pilgrams, businessmen on the company card. He may very well get the national attention, sure, but if you don’t have regular local traffic day in and day out, you simply won’t last long. He may very well generate fireworks, at home and in a national magazine here or there, but that doesn’t guarantee longevity or profit.

    And there is a middle ground between the “art” that you call McCallister’s cooking and molten chocolate cake, ginormous portions, and mac & cheese. That middle ground is excellently brought to life through successful, approachable, food-driven restaurants like Bolsa, Victor Tangos, Nonna, Lucia, Smoke, etc.

  • Chad

    “Place went down hard and fast once McCallister walked out the door”…. so then McAllister failed as a consultant. Was he too busy with his own agenda to make sure that Campo was successful?

  • Troy

    I saw Matt at work at Fuego at Stephan Pyles. He’s the definition of wunderkind. Mad skills and originality. He’s not chasing the benjamins, so it doesn’t matter if Victor Tango’s or Neighborhood Services end up with more turns or bigger profits. There’s nothing wrong with making money and pleasing crowds, if that’s your aim. Matt’s after something else and it’s going to turn Dallas upside down!

  • Bill

    Whether or not he’s personally chasing the benjamins is irrevalent. A business needs to make money in order to stay alive, particularly a restaurant. Unless his backers have insanely deep pockets, they’re not going to keep the place open just because he’s a wunderkind. People still have to resonate with the food you put out, love the experience, frequent the place, and keep coming again and again.

  • underglass

    Bill speaks the truth.

  • sam

    Tell you the truth Dallas is not ready for the modern cuisine or molecular gastronomy or what ever you call it. I tried Molecular cuisine in NYC and London, and its not any thing great . keep the food simple, tasty and fresh that all, and the business will last longer…. check out Bolsa, VT, Lucia and up in north check out Pepper Smash… all this places will do well because they keep it simple

  • Foie devil

    The reason to open a restaurant is to make money. If it wasn’t about that then you would be just as happy cooking at home for friends and family. I wish all the success in the world to Matt and his team, but to sit hear and say he isn’t worried about the Benjamin’s is pretty ridiculous. No investor is going to shell out money to someone that has a business plan to not be profitable. These stupid side dish readers need to learn how the restaurant business really works before posting ignorant comments. Once again I hope ft33 excites and elevates the city of Dallas and makes plenty of cold hard cash.

  • M

    We should wish well to all those who have the guts to bring to Dallas what many other cities have been doing for a long time ( and not just Matt, other chefs as well) We don’t need 20 restaurants going exactly what people expect or want. It is good sometimes to spice things up a bit! Instead of bashing out those who are investing in the Dallas restaurant scene, we should be supporting them. Let Dallas grow and evolve!