The DMN reports John Tesar has split with the Apheleia Restaurant Group, which operates Oak, Pakpao Thai, Quill Lounge, El Bolero, and Royal Magnificent Burgers. Tesar and Apheleia had plans for an Italian restaurant, Gravy 51. That’s probably off the table as well. Although Tesar was a consulting chef for the restaurant group, I’m sure it was a big hit in the paycheck department. Tesar retains a leading role at Knife.
“Richard Ellman [Apheleia Restaurant Group] came to me at a time he needed help,” Tesar says. “I agreed to consult with Oak. I went through a few chefs there until I got it right. Then I started working on their other concepts.” Tesar says he developed the menu for Quill Lounge and Royal Magnificent Burger and tweaked the menu at El Bolero. He brought in help to stabilize the restaurants. “After I did Royal, I woke up one morning and said ‘I don’t want to do all of this. I don’t want to work for 100 investors.’ It’s confusing and exhausting,” Tesar says. ” I have two tremendous opportunities which I can’t disclose at this time and I wanted to take them.” Tesar also plans to open several Knife locations and to re-open Spoon early next year.
So where’s the drama. It’s John Tesar. “There is no crazy split,” Ellman says. “We are all still good friends. It was a mutual decision.” Joel Harrington has been elevated to executive chef and Oak and has already “taken the bull by the horns” according to Ellman.
Update: Escape Hatch also reported the news, but there is no time stamp on the post, so if somebody wants to claim first dibs it may go to Escape Hatch.