Yesterday, news broke that Dean Street, a new Prospect Heights eatery, had fired its chef of one month, Spotted Pig alum Nate Smith. It was a curious move, given most of the attention for the restaurant came because of Smith. And also, well, because it was just a month old. Owner John Longo says he'd prefer not to go into the reasoning behind the move, but "It was clearly a decision we would have preferred not making." He tells us he's considering a number of different directions for the menu and a number of new candidates.
Chef Smith, on the other hand, would like to clarify a few things. He tells Eater that most of the problems between him and the owners stemmed from divergent visions between front of the house and back of the house. Mostly, it had to do with the TV and the jukebox:
A lot of people were coming for the food and the place died after dinner service...But the games would come on in the middle of dining hours and I felt it was disruptive and said something about it. I was working with these guys and they didn't have any restaurant experience and they were looking to me, but they were very defensive when I went into the bar area to share my thoughts. I wasn't going to keep my mouth shut when I saw something that didn't work, and the TV didn't work.
Also, he says the jukebox would cut in and out, something he couldn't stand for. And on top of that, he didn't think the bar program had any personality. Smith notes, "I think they bit off more than they could chew by having me on board. I think it made it more stressful for them...I think they thought I was too intense about everything."
As far as Smith's future is concerned, he's moving forward with a project in Williamsburg with a team that owns two bars in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for more.
· Nate Smith Already OUT at Month-Old Dean Street [~ENY~]
· All Coverage of Dean Street [~ENY~]