A chef who served two stints with Coco’s Bistro will be the co-founder of a new fine-dining restaurant coming to downtown Springfield this spring.
Darin Mitchell stepped down as Coco’s chef a month ago. Mitchell helped open Coco’s Bistro’s previous location on Wayne Avenue more than a decade ago, and returned to the restaurant about three years ago after it moved in 2012 to its current location at 250 Warren St. just south of downtown Dayton. Coco’s kitchen is now led by chef Bryan Ondre, Karen Wick-Gagnet, Coco’s co-owner, told this news outlet last month.
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Mitchell and Springfield-area physician Shawn Osterholt say they’re planning to open a new restaurant called Stella Bleu at 20 N. Fountain Ave. in Spring 2019. Construction work is ongoing at the site, but Osterholt said the tentative goal is to begin serving customers in March.
Mitchell will be in charge of the restaurant’s daily operations and said the menu will include a variety of dishes including steak, seafood, pasta and vegetarian options.
“It will be a little bit of everything,” Mitchell said.
Osterholt said both he and Mitchell have wanted to open a restaurant in Springfield for several years, and both decided recent investments downtown made 2019 a good year to start the business.
One of the challenges was finding the right location, but they decided to lease the property from Jim Lagos, a Springfield attorney.
“Right now, there’s just a lot going for Springfield,” Osterholt said. “I think downtown is really going to take off.”
Stella Bleu will likely be able to seat as many as 85 customers inside, with a separate private dining space that can seat about 50, Osterholt said. In addition, one of the restaurant’s features will be an outdoor patio that can seat an additional 75 to 100 guests, he said.
“Our goal is to bring a great restaurant to Springfield, from the food to the service to the ambiance,” Osterholt said.
Mitchell said as much of the food will be made in-house as possible, and portions of the menu will likely change occasionally to offer something new for customers. Springfield once had several good local restaurants, but many of those have closed as the local economy has struggled, Mitchell said. He said the key to the new restaurant’s success will be to provide a consistently good meal every time, and he’s optimistic that Springfield’s downtown is seeing steady improvement.
“I think of Springfield even 10 years ago, it’s definitely changing,” Mitchell said.