Find a back issue

Bailey’s Prime Plus: New Management. New Menu. Avner Samuel Has Left the Building

Earlier this week, I attended a media event at Bailey’s Prime Plus flagship location at The Shops of Park Lane. (Ed’s Note: Last week we reported that the Fort Worth location is now closed.) The gathering was held to showcase the changes the restaurant has made since owner Ed Bailey hired Avner (Nosh, Snack) Samuel as a consultant. Samuel brought one of Nosh’s chef, Ryan Carbery, to Bailey’s and overhauled the steak-centric steakhouse into a lower price point New American restaurant. The contract between Bailey and Samuel is up. Avner has gone back to his own business, but Carbery is staying on as the full-time execuchef at Bailey’s.

SideDish has already reported that the chef and sommelier have left the building and that long-time Dallas restaurateur Avner Samuel has been brought in on a consulting contract to reshape the kitchen. There was a large turnover in the front of house staff and all of the kitchen staff except one has been let go. Bailey and company blame the lack of business on the recession-induced decision not to build the once-planned hotel and health club next door to the restaurant. The only strategy left was for them to change the food and the service.

Will they succeed? Jump for food photography by Desiree Espada….

At Tuesday’s event, they announced their new strategy. Ken Kuczwaj has been hired as Director of Operations and Marketing. He is a veteran of Bob’s Steak and Chop House. Kuczwaj is the executive in charge and the guy with the most to win or lose depending on how things turn out. During his time at Bob’s, the restaurant successfully lured the expense account spenders and knocked out a brilliant steak house menu and provided professional service. I expect that under his leadership, Bailey’s will adopt the same model.

Broiled Langoustine/"Electrified" Scallop. Spring Pea Puree, Romesco. (Photo by Desiree Espada)

The second most important guy is Ryan Carbery. He came with Avner Samuel on the consulting gig, but he is now the new execuchef at Bailey’s. Carbery was once a sous chef at the short-lived Redfork and Lazare. Carbery’s new job will be daunting. He has been placed in a turbulent environment and it’s up to him to settle things down and create a solid product and manage a new staff. Bailey’s is a not only a huge restaurant, there are additional 10, 20 and 40-seat dining rooms intended for the lucrative group-dining market. If the marketing folks fill those regularly, it will put a lot of stress on the kitchen. At this media event Carbery took us through a fleet of new dishes, most of which will make the new menu.

Foie Gras, Texas Peach Preserve, Fleur de Sel. (Photo by Desiree Espada)

Kuczwaj is nothing if not flexible. For example, the wine list at Bob’s was a Cabernet cavern of steak house favorites. At Bailey’s, he inherited one of the best and most eclectic cellars in the city. It was painstakingly assembled over time by former sommelier Jennifer Jaco. Her efforts will win a Wine Spectator award for the restaurant this July, probably a coveted Best of Award of Excellence (kind of 2 out of 3 stars — placing it in the top 1% of the country’s wine lists). Despite the change, Kuczwaj has embraced it. He figures it will be his inventory for two or three years. The cigar scene will be embraced: they are adding a smoke-friendly patio and humidor. There is live music in the bar on weekends (Kuczwaj is such a music fan he auditioned the artists personally).

Pork/Veal. smoked white bean puree. Agro Dolce Swiss chard. (Photo by Desiree Espada)

Talking with them, I got the impression that both Kuczwaj and Carbery are aware of the size of the task.

Boudin Noir. Lentils de Puy, Cherry Reduction. (Photo by Desiree Espada)

Cherry/Peach. Vanilla Ice cream. Mint gremolata. (Photo by Desiree Espada)
Venison/Beef: Pomme Puree, Roasted Garlic Spinach. (Photo by Desiree Espada)
(Photo by Desiree Espada)

12 comments on “Bailey’s Prime Plus: New Management. New Menu. Avner Samuel Has Left the Building

  1. The best to Chef Ryan who is past due for a lucky break and a great success. The guy can cook!

  2. You know…you can dislike Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban but root root root for the players who are trying their best on the gridiron (or griddle in this case). I wish these passionate folks all the best. Thanks Nancy for turning the attention away from the coach and onto the players.

  3. Bud: KK loved the location but felt that they do not have enough management bandwidth to work on it and Dallas at present.

  4. location, location, location !!! why would anybody go there ? Cedar Hill fine dining ? East of Central off Park Lane? Stick to your fast food burger chain
    Is Bailey an egomaniac ?

  5. The chances of success are slim and none. None left town…….
    They need to get the total dinner check to under $70 per couple not including drinks.
    The restaurant has never -NEVER – delivered on food quality or service…….

  6. The Park Lane Shops are outlet shops.. ‘everything for a steal’ – can’t you read their clever (not) signage!?

    Why would Bailey’s pick that location in the first place?

    Ed Bailey is really out of touch! His Rolls Royce is parked in the valet lot by the kiddie swings in the small park where everyone takes their dogs to poop!

    I’m glad they’re struggling – they had such a bad attitude! Even the valet staff has an bad attitude. The road is so narrow in front of the restaurant and they stop all the traffic for their occasional dinner guest – can’t wait till they close! ha ha!

  7. i guess we now know why Bailey balled up in a corner and gave in at the chesterfield, he couldn’t dare stand any bad press with these impending announcements and the latest comings and goings!!! TOLD YOU this was coming. This has to be the most well funded mismanaged mess in Dallas Restaurant history. It’s like Ron Corchran, Robert Columbo and Bob Sambol had a Ego Storming session and got Ed Beetle Bailey to right a blank check, anyone and I do mean anyone who has done business with this disaster, or even interviewed with them can attest to the absolute ridiculousness of it all. Wow, well we all know the ending has to be near.

  8. Pingback: Update: Bailey’s Prime Plus New Management. New Menu. Avner Samuel Has Left the Building | SideDish