Paul Reilly opening Beast + Bottle in the Cherokee on 12th Avenue space
Two weeks ago, we broke the news that Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue, an iconic Golden Triangle gathering place and watering hole that's occupied the turf at 1201 Cherokee Street for 28 years, is closing on October 14. But that's just one part of a larger story. I also mentioned that the Cherokee had been sold, but refrained from spilling the name of the buyer at his request (we honor those kinds of wishes around here).
But if you look at the photo up top -- the one with the mischievous Cheshire-cat smile -- you'll undoubtedly recognize that grin as belonging to Paul Reilly, the former chef-owner of Encore, which closed six months ago when Reilly and his sister, Aileen, also an owner, couldn't come to terms with the then-landlord.
Encore closed on a Sunday following a stellar brunch service, and Paul and Aileen didn't waste any time hunting for a new space, which led them to Baker, Uptown, the Ballpark District and, eventually, the Golden Triangle -- and Cherokee on 12th Avenue, a space, says Reilly, that embodied everything he and Aileen were looking for.
"We love the Golden Triangle neighborhood, and while it's close to downtown, there really aren't a ton of restaurants over there, and we knew we could do some awesome things with the space while still honoring the integrity of the Cherokee," notes Paul, adding that the restaurant's two patios -- one that's streetside, and a second garden patio that faces west -- were additional draws. "It just fits in with what we want to do, and the neighborhood is a bit of a dark horse that's still being discovered," he adds.
The name -- Beast + Bottle -- is indicative, says Paul, of his own passion for food and Aileen's dedication to wine. "I do the food and Aileen does the wine, and we've always believed that memories are made around the table. We grew up like that and want to bring that same kind of experience to our guests," he tells me. Food and drink, he continues, "equals family -- they're meant to go together -- and the name is representative of that and the family aspect of owning a restaurant together."
And while the "beast" in the title may conjure up images of thick slabs of steer, that's not what this chef, renowned for lapping up locavorism, celebrating off-cuts and committing to sustainably-sourced products, has on his culinary conscience. "When I was at Encore, we were all things to all people, because that's what the owners wanted, but here," he affirms, "it's going to be much more about the food and food practices that inspire me, and it'll be a nose-to-tail menu that'll be driven more by availability than seasonality."