This afternoon, I finally got some time to catch up with chef Cullen Campbell in the wake of Fine's Cellar's recent closing, and he says he's really upset about it.
"It was pretty much the economy, and with the way things have going, the investors didn't want to put more money into it," he tells me.
But even before things really started to look grim, Campbell set his sights on opening his own restaurant, along with Atlas Bistro chef Brandon Crouser as a partner.
"I really enjoy working with him," says Campbell, who'd been on staff at Atlas several years ago.
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Right now, they're tentatively calling the new spot Crudo -- no surprise, it will be a crudo bar (that is, serving Italian-style raw fish dishes), which Campbell thinks will be a welcome twist in an area saturated with sushi bars.
They'll also be featuring a mozzarella menu, with several kinds of homemade mozzarella and burrata, as well as homemade pastas and some comfort food-y braised dishes. To drink, they'll be featuring beer, wine, and a small menu of creative signature cocktails, including liquid nitrogen-infused cocktails ("like giant slushies").
Although the location is still being finalized (Old Town Scottsdale and Arcadia are two current possibilities), Campbell envisions a space with an open kitchen, where he and Crouser will be able to interact with guests at Crudo's crudo bar.
I'll keep you posted on the timeline as things progress over the summer.