- Mark Fisher Staff Writer
Rue Dumaine is poised to change its name, tweak its concept, and more than quadruple its hours open to the public, co-founder Anne Kearney told this news outlet today.
To accommodate those changes, the award-winning restaurant will take a hiatus starting Jan. 22. Over the following few weeks, Kearney will oversee renovation of the restaurant and the hiring of about 20 new employees.
In early February – the precise date hasn’t been set — the restaurant will open as “BAR Dumaine,” with a new menu, a more casual atmosphere, and significantly expanded hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Rue Dumaine’s current service hours generally call for the restaurant to be open to the public less than 20 hours a week.
“Throughout the industry, restaurants are taking on a more casual approach due to the increased cost of making high-end experiences happen,” Kearney said. “People still want high-quality foods on their plates, but time is of the essence.”
Still unresolved is where BAR Dumaine or its successor will be following July 31, when Rue Dumaine’s lease at its current location at 1061 Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Ohio 725) expires.
“I’m exploring numerous options,” Kearney said.
The terms of Rue Dumaine’s lease at its current location were the driving force behind the decision last spring to scale back the restaurant’s hours and reduce costs.
The restaurant signed a 10-year lease in 2007 that called for Rue Dumaine to be responsible for paying any increase in property taxes that occurred during the life of the lease, Kearney said. A decision by the Montgomery County Board of Revision following re-evaluation of the retail center greatly increased the assessed value of the property, which in turn triggered a substantial property tax increase that cost Rue Dumaine more than 70 percent more in taxes each year, the restaurant co-owner said.
“We had to minimize overhead,” Kearney said of the April decision to scale back public hours as a fine-dining restaurant. But media reports on the reduction in hours left some customers with the wrong impression that the restaurant had shut down, she said.
The transformation to BAR Dumaine will allow Kearney and the restaurant’s crew “to live out the remainder of the lease with a little bounce in our step,” Kearney said.
The makeover the restaurant will “entice a new audience of diners as well as satisfy our regulars of 10 years,” Kearney said. During the renovation, part of the dining room will become bar seating, although there still will be tables preserved for a dining-room experience, she said. New signage will be installed, along with new curtains, a new color scheme, and a fresh coat of paint.
Until the renovation project starts, however, Kearney invited customers to “join us the next two weeks – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – through Jan. 21 for the last days of Rue Dumaine.”
Rue Dumaine and its dishes won’t disappear completely.
“The cuisine of Rue Dumaine will live through the catering arm of our business,” Kearney said. “I want guests to know that Rue Dumaine will still be available to them. I can still come to their homes, and I can still accommodate special events elsewhere,” Kearney said.
Some of Kearney’s New Orleans-influenced French touches are still evident in the new, and still tentative, menu being developed for BAR Dumaine. The new menu includes some of Rue Dumaine’s signature dishes, including Trout Amandine, Fried Blue Point Oysters and Pan-Seared Sea Scallops. But is also includes some more casual offerings, including single and double cheeseburgers.
Kearney is the Dayton area’s most highly credentialed chef, based on her recognition by the James Beard Foundation, whose awards are regarded as the nation’s most prestigious recognition program for the food and beverage business — the equivalent of the Academy Awards of the restaurant industry.
In February 2016, the Beard Foundation for the sixth consecutive year named Kearney a semifinalist for its “Best Chefs in America” competition for the Great Lakes region. Kearney was the only chef from the Dayton area, and one of only three in Ohio, to be named in 2016.
The Beard Foundation recognized the restaurant itself in 2008, naming Rue Dumaine a semifinalist for the foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” in the nation. And Kearney was named a James Beard Foundation best-chef award winner in the southeastern U.S. in 2002 when she and her husband, Rue Dumaine co-founder Tom Sand, owned and operated the highly regarded Peristyle restaurant in New Orleans.
Kearney and Sand, both natives of the Dayton area, opened Rue Dumaine in 2007.
All Rue Dumaine gift certificates will be honored at BAR Dumaine, Kearney said.
To apply for one of BAR Dumaine’s 20 or so staff openings, Kearney recommended stopping by Rue Dumaine between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.