Thursday, August 28, 2003

After a year of Pigall's, chef plans a new bistro

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

If at first you do succeed, try, try again.

That's the bold business philosophy of Jean-Robert de Cavel, chef-owner of Jean-Robert at Pigall's on Fourth Street, who will open another downtown restaurant in November. De Cavel's new Vine Street restaurant, less than two blocks from Pigall's, will be a French bistro, serving lunch and dinner, with entree prices under $20.

"It can be a fun place to get something quick to eat," says the native of France, who worked as executive chef of the Maisonette from 1993 to 2001 before leaving to open the new Pigall's last summer.

Back then, many were skeptical about his timing in opening Pigall's - a fine dining French restaurant with a $65 fixed-price menu - considering the slow economy, troubles downtown and the long odds against any restaurant surviving its first year. But the chef has earned good reviews and served a full house nearly every night.

De Cavel discovered the space for his new bistro, at 413 Vine St. - formerly Paradise Pizza and Schlotzky's Deli - during a July stroll. He and his Pigall's partners, Marilyn and Martin Wade of Blue Ash, decided this month to sign a five-year lease.

"We think there are traditionally more opportunities in the suburbs," said Martin Wade, a CPA. "But his heart is downtown, so we decided to let him go for it."

The chef hopes to attract younger customers, especially those who live downtown. The partners expect to begin renovations to the kitchen and 75-seat dining room next month. They hope to open the as-yet unnamed bistro by Nov. 15.

De Cavel plans a traditional bistro menu - simple chicken dishes, steak and frites (fried potatoes), pasta, steamed mussels and salads.

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