For more than a decade, chef Kevin Binkley's namesake restaurant has been the pinnacle of destination dining in metro Phoenix. With ever-changing multi-course menus that tend to be as dramatic as they are unforgettably delicious, the chef's earned nearly a dozen James Beard Award nominations for his work at the Cave Creek eatery, which is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in both the Valley and state.
Now Binkley says he's ready to move forward.
That's why the chef plans to close Binkley's and his more casual Bink's Midtown restaurant before opening by October a new fine dining spot with an entirely new concept in the current Bink's Midtown location.
"I'm trying to get better," Binkley says. "I'm trying to get to the next level."
Binkley currently owns and operates four restaurants: Binkley's, Cafe Bink, Bink's Midtown, and Bink's Scottsdale. And though the chef says all four restaurants turn a profit, the work of overseeing four businesses and managing more than 100 employees has taken a toll — and meant less time in the kitchen. For Binkley, who's known for being a perfectionist, it's been a struggle to maintain consistency and quality across all four locations.
"I like the unique, the details. What I don't like is this business," Binkley says. "What's kept me in is my love for food."
So, in an effort to downsize, re-focus, and challenge himself as a chef, Binkley plans to turn Bink's Midtown into a one-of-a-kind dining experience that combines fine dining standards with the intimacy of dining in his own home. He plans to limit the restaurant's capacity to about 20 seats, with just one seating three days a week and two seats of 20 for a total of 40 covers on Friday and Saturday nights. Guests will dine from a set daily menu featuring ingredients grown at the urban farm Binkley and his wife, Amy, operate in Central Phoenix.
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Binkley plans to knock down the wall that currently separates the dining room from the kitchen to create a more open floor plan. And rather than have servers bringing plates to diners' tables, it's the chefs who will present and explain each dish to guests. Binkley says he envisions using high quality ingredients (think, truffles sliced tableside) and featuring items such as whole roast goat. Binkley also hopes to have diners move through different spaces during the meal. For example, starting the meal out on the restaurant's patio, before moving to the dining room for the main courses, and perhaps back out to the patio for dessert and drinks.
Diners will pay before they arrive, and Binkley says he expects the price point to fall around $150 per person.
As for his two other restaurants, Bink's Scottsdale and Cafe Bink, the chef says he may close both restaurants once the leases run out.
Binkley opened Binkley's restaurant in 2005 and has since been nominated for the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award 11 times, making it to the finalist list the last four years running. He opened Cafe Bink, also in Cave Creek, eight years ago, adding Bink's Midtown in 2013 and Bink's Scottsdale less than a year later. For more information about the chef or any of his restaurants, visit the Binkley's Restaurant Group website.