Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar is getting a radical overhaul. The entire space will close at the end of July and reopen in mid-August as two restaurants and a bar. Andre Natera will remain as executive chef. The downstairs will become his baby, Village Kitchen. The room upstairs will be transformed into Toko V, an Asian seafood and sushi restaurant. The Marquee Bar will remain the Marquee Bar. “We’re looking at massive redo of the downstairs menu and making it a more appropriate for a neighborhood destination,” co-owner Brian Twomey says. “I’m going back to the original vision for what I think this restaurant should be. We took a wrong turn somewhere to go fine dining and no neighborhood can support 8,000 square feet of fine dining.”
Twomey has proved that theory. This restaurant, with perhaps the highest rent per square foot in town, has suffered from an identity crisis since it opened as Marquee Grill & Bar on April 27, 2011. Despite an all-star staff– executive chef Tre Wilcox, mixologist Jason Kosmas, general manager Justin Beam–the crowds thinned and business declined. To stop the bleeding, they changed the menu to a “more approachable list of items,” but they confused customers by switching the name to Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar on July 9, 2012. The restaurant took another hit when Chef Tre Wilcox resigned on December 28, 2012. Former Pyramid Room golden boy, Andre Natera, was hired on January 15 and has worked like crazy to retool the menu, but the numbers have not turned around.
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The fancy white booths will come out of the Village Kitchen and the décor will feature new hardwood floors, wooden tables covered with butcher paper, and Texas-inspired photographs on brightly colored walls. Natera is still fine tuning the menu that will include house-ground burgers, fish and chips, buttermilk fried chicken salad, and mussels steamed in white wine. Village Kitchen will offer the same menu for lunch and dinner and will be open all day. Natera will feature a daily special.
Natera is curating the menu at Toko V but, according to Twomey, there will be a “sushi chef behind a sushi counter making rolls.” Duncan-Miller is handling the redesign which will feature a blowfish chandelier below the skylight. The Marquee Bar will include an extensive craft beer program.
“The space will operate like three zones, but each will feel like its own unique concept,” Twomey says. If this doesn’t work, I suggest Twomey and his partner Mark Heard call in Robert Irvine and his Restaurant Impossible squad.