Since leaving his partnership with Ed Leclere last November, former Kai chef Micheal O'Dowd has been a busy man. He's formed a new company, The MOD Restaurant Group LLC, and is ready to open a new restaurant in May.
O'Dowd closes on the renovated home at 2201 North Seventh Street in Phoenix today. The building currently houses Coronado Cafe, which will close its doors on Monday.
The restaurant will become Urban Vine: Kitchen|Hops|Grapes and will offer a "small tapas-like menu" priced between $10 and $30. Expect local brew, craft beers, unique cocktails, gourmet sandwiches, and locally sourced ingredients. There will be Sunday brunch and a "Chef's Meal" dinner with entrées that change nightly.
O'Dowd says he expects to be open by May 1 and will "paint and do some work" in the meantime. He'll be redoing and moving the current bar, as well as adding taps.
"We want it to be a unique little community hangout that opens its arms to the local surroundings and will still focus on local farms, artists and potentially a solo guitarist on certain nights," O'Dowd tells Chow Bella.
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After leaving Kai, the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant in Arizona, O'Dowd moved for a short while to the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel. He left that post after less than a year to start Vivid Lifestyle Concepts with Leclere, a former promotions director at Chester's Harley-Davidson in Mesa, and re-launched Renegade Tap & Kitchen (former home of chefs Robert McGrath and Aaron May) as Renegade MOD in May 2013. The duo split last November and Renegade has since closed.
For the new project, O'Dowd has teamed up with business partner and COO John Rothstein, who worked as Kai's manager and sommelier from 2002 to 2004. Rothstein's résumé also includes turns as director of beverage for the Starr Restaurant Organization and most recently, as operating partner and general manager for St. Francis in 2013.
O'Dowd says he's also considering opening a second restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. Stay tuned for more details.