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Celebrity chef looks for a fresh start with plans for a hot new "rustic chic" restaurant

Celeb chef looks for a fresh start with plans for hot new restaurant

Wendell Price
Wendell Price has big plans for a new restaurant featuring French-inspired fare. Facebook
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
A small sign facing Richmond advertises the future Rustic Oak. Photo by Eric Sandler
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
The space has been completely gutted to reveal wooden walls and floors. Photo by Eric Sandler
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
Chandeliers will adorn the ceilings.  Photo by Eric Sandler
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
More future design elements. Photo by Eric Sandler
Wendell Price
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
Wendell Price Rustic Oak
Wendell Price Rustic Oak

The area around Richmond and Montrose has been a hot one for openings in 2014. Revelry on Richmond brought a sports bar with craft beer to the area, BCN: Taste & Tradition is a fine dining rising star with international flair and Pax Americana is one of the most exciting restaurants in the city, period.

Into that mix comes chef Wendell Price.

 "I prayed for a unique spot instead of a strip center," Price says. "I've taken everything I've done for 30 years and pushed it into this building." 

Price, whose resume includes appearances on the Food Network, cooking for Hollywood celebrities like Kevin Costner and Denzel Washington and restaurants in Houston and Memphis, spent time in jail after being convicted of tax evasion in 2012. Now he's looking for a fresh start with a 40-seat restaurant in a converted Montrose bungalow next door to Brooklyn Athletic Club.

Called Rustic Oak, Price tells CultureMap the restaurant will be "rustic chic" with French-inspired fare. When it opens in January, Rustic Oak will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from a tidy menu of eight entrees per meal.

"I prayed for a unique spot instead of a strip center," Price says. "I've taken everything I've done for 30 years and pushed it into this building."

While the space doesn't look like much now, Price explains that structural work to replace the roof, support the floor and upgrade the air conditioning has already taken place. An adjacent structure was demolished to create the parking lot. All that's left is to install the bathroom and kitchen equipment.

Plans calls for the space to be decorated with vintage chandeliers, antique furniture and wallpaper. Diners will have a choice of sitting in one of the three dining rooms or at an eight-seat bar facing the exposed kitchen. Behind the house, Price has built a second story space that will house a whiskey bar and cigar-friendly patio.   

"I'm the little guy on the block," Price adds.

He understands that he's up against some serious competition but thinks he can attract diners with dishes like barbecue crab, roasted oysters, crab soup and, at breakfast, savory shrimp pancakes. An accessible location just across the street from the Post 510 apartments helps, too.

Price says he has one overriding philosophy for the project. "I'm was like, 'Wendell, keep it simple.'"

If Price is able to stick to that plan and execute in the kitchen, the residents of Montrose and Midtown will have a solid new option. Even Hollywood celebrities need those, right?