Are Big Changes Coming to Craft Dallas?

Virginia wild sea bass served family-style in a cast-iron pan. photo by Kevin Marple

Max Rudberg, the general manager of Craft Dallas, has left the restaurant. Why? “I did not see eye to eye with the hotel’s upper management and their proposed changes,” says Rudberg. “They want to dumb down one of the city’s best restaurants.”

Rudberg says Thomas Caramucci, general manager of W Dallas Victory Hotel, would prefer Craft to be “a typical hotel restaurant” during breakfast and lunch service. By typical, Rudberg means the menu and service style would be more fast casual—even the “uniforms” of the staff would change accordingly.

I asked Rudberg what executive chef Tom Colicchio felt about the proposed changes. “Colicchio gave over control [of Craft to the hotel] on March 1, 2009,” said Rudberg. “The hotel would not allow me to correspond with Tom’s people in New York on any menus.”

According to Rudberg, after March 1, 2009, Colicchio retained his status as executive chef and retained the right to keep the chef de cuisine (currently the brilliant Jeff Harris), as his employee. In the agreement, Colicchio is “required to make quarterly visits” to the Dallas location of Craft.

“People here have never gotten the beautiful simplicity of Craft,” says Rudberg. “We never even got support from the party animals working concierge. Even though we gave them tastings, they never got it.”

This makes me sad. Craft has been one of my favorite restaurants in Dallas since it opened. I’ve had some issues with Colicchio but I love his cooking and the style of the restaurant. I called W Dallas Victory Hotel GM Thomas Caramucci yesterday afternoon to ask him about the proposed changes, but he is out of town for Thanksgiving holidays until November 29. Stay tuned for details.

20 comments on “Are Big Changes Coming to Craft Dallas?

  1. most of the people i know who did not regularly support Craft cited their portions. “beautiful simplicity” is admirable, but that should not translate to leaving a really expensive dinner still hungry.

  2. also, he said a mouthful about the party animal concierge bit. ghostbar defines W’s brand (for better or for worse)…craft is the opposite of ghostbar. challenging fit. i bet it would have done better in a different location.

  3. ate there once, food was meh. my takeaway: craft = w. w = ghost bar. ghost Bar = gold-chain-wearing, swarthy eurotrash in a bad rap video.

  4. OIC – yes, I hope that is the case. After losing York Street, my glass is half empty this week. I was not looking to stir the pot – not my schtick!

  5. As long as the dinner hasn’t changed I’m keeping craft a regular. Harris is my favorite chef in Dallas.

    I’m sure the other meals will be the same as well. I care about food and service, not ambiance.

  6. As long as the dinner hasn’t changed I’m keeping craft a regular. Harris is my favorite chef in Dallas. Im sure the other meals will be the same as well. I care about food and service, not ambiance.

  7. I spoke to Max a few days ago and the frustration he had from the concierge staff was clear. They simply were not refering to Craft as they should have been. The percentage was shockingly low. With little support from the hotel itself – and Craft is a wonderful restaurant that fits the profile of the guests – there is no excuse for this.

    Max was spotted today at Smitty’s Market. I would imagine him being placed soemwhere wonderful very quickly.

  8. Steven Doyle is Dallas’ own Captain Hindsight. He always pops up the day after he headline to say he knew about it all along. Thanks for sharing, Steven! Can’t wait to hear about the next Big Thing you already knew!

  9. Marcus, I just spit my coffee across my keyboard. Very funny line. We just switched to a new server and are still plugging up some holes. SideDish got spammed by a bunch or steel industry sites. I’ve deleted them but left your comment up so I can go back to it when I am in a bad mood. Oh happy day!

  10. It would seem Mr Doyle had actual content to relative to the story as opposed to snarky BS as in the case of “Yesterday”. Hiding behind a fake moniker can give some folks a false sense of validity, but not in your case.

  11. It’s sad we are losing such a good leader & operator. Max cared so much about craft and didn’t want to see it tainted by the hotel management. Caramucci claims to be a “foodie”, yet he doesn’t eat any fruit, vegetables or seafood and never drinks water. He doesn’t know the first thing about fine dining.

  12. W-Insider- What record? Alumni from a local high school…..are you seriously even posting that???? Mr. Doyle……..move to LA where you can “spot” real talent at the local markets.