When restaurateur and chef Jimmy Lambatos exited Baur's Ristorante in June, following the loss of his lease (the space, located at 1512 Curtis, is now Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar), he got in touch with Peter Kudla, the COO of Metropolitan Homes, owner of Russo's Kitchen + Tavern -- and a long-time friend. Kudla, who had since parted ways with Russo's opening chef, Brian Laird (who's now cooking at Rockbar) was searching for someone to run Russo's, and Lambatos, who was absent a restaurant, jumped at the opportunity. "Peter and I have been friends for years, and he needed some help at Russo's, so I came on board to manage it," says Lambatos.
At the same time, Lambatos was negotiating a lease with the Streets at SouthGlenn to take over Mark Tarbell's eponymous restaurant, which closed abruptly in May of this year. (Tarbell also closed his second outpost of the Oven, also at the Streets at SouthGlenn.) The resulting restaurant, Ivy at the Glenn, is a joint venture among three partners: Lambatos, silent partner Kudla and Ron Desavario, whom Lambatos worked with several years ago, when the two launched the Quizno's sandwich-shop concept.
"I started working on the space in July, and it took longer than we hoped to get open, mainly because we had to re-apply for a liquor license," explains Lambatos, who unlocked the doors to Ivy at the Glenn late last week, a month after his liquor license was approved. The quarters remain largely unchanged: Lambatos added a community table and hued the wood a chocolate brown, but the contemporary didn't need much of an overhaul. "We made it a little more user-friendly and a little more relaxed," he notes, "but there wasn't a whole lot that we really needed to do."
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The menu, which Lambatos created, is still a work in progress, but once he hires an executive chef -- namely "someone who can prepare seasonal food with simple flavor profiles -- that's the way I cook -- and has really great organizational skills" -- he'll tweak it to cater to the neighborhood. "Ideally," he says, "I want to serve simple food with contemporary spins in a relaxed atmosphere, and I want this to be an authentic neighborhood spot that connects to the community and gives people what they want."
Ivy at the Glenn is open for lunch and dinner daily. To find out more (or apply for the exec chef job), call 303-730-7200.