As the Butcher & the Brewer closes in on its summer opening in the former Dredger's Union space on East Fourth Street, management continues to add key personnel to the team. The latest addition: Executive Chef.
Jim Blevins is leaving his post as executive chef at Hodge's, which he held for just over a year, to join the B&B team. His last official day is Sunday, April 6. Before that position, Blevins was executive chef of Downtown 140 in Hudson and is an alum of Lola.
"I think he's going to be a good fit; he knows his food and is going to be a great team player," says owner Jason Workman, who along with partners Chris Lieb and Jeff Leonard is behind the ambitious project that when complete will boast a restaurant, brewery and retail butcher shop.
Workman says he was attracted to Blevins' maturity, as well as his chops in the kitchen. The 38-year-old chef has been working professionally for roughly 20 years. He lives in Cuyahoga Falls with his wife and two young daughters.
"The biggest thing that excites me is going to work with a team of passionate, caring people that really want to put a lot of love into a product, whether it's beer, the food or the service," Blevins explains. "A group of people that really love what they do."
Blevins has a daunting task awaiting him. At full capacity, the brewpub will seat approximately 185 diners — more when the lower-level speakeasy is complete. What's more, he's joining a culinary strip populated by some heavy hitters, including Michael Symon, Zack Bruell and Jonathon Sawyer.
"It's somewhat intimidating," he admits. "I'm on a block full of Cleveland's best chefs. But I'm not sure I'd call it competition, though. I'm hoping we'll be the place where all those people come after work for a beer — a lot."
The concept alone will set B&B apart from its neighbors, Blevins says. The very informal venue will feature a large number of communal tables from which guests will order from various menu categories and share with their tablemates. Rather than a traditional starter-salad-main-dessert-style menu, B&B will encourage grazing.
"The biggest departure will be how the food is going to come out," says the chef. "We want something interesting to eat on the table at all times."
Menu categories such as Bar Snacks, Cured and Cultured (charcuterie and cheese), Veg, Meat and Fish will be populated by creative, chef-driven items. Of course, many of the items will be coming from the onsite butcher shop.
"I'm thrilled to work with an extremely talented group of butchers, who will be feeding me some really neat products to play with," he says.
Going forward, Blevins says he'll work with management to build a culinary team and craft an appealing, ambitious menu. For now, though, he's just thrilled to have found a group of passionate, like-minded people with whom he can help build an exciting new downtown Cleveland restaurant.
"I was looking for a place I could call home and this just felt good to me," he says.
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