WICKER PARK — The first chef at Cafe Robey, an upscale French-American bistro on the ground floor of Wicker Park’s boutique hotel The Robey, has resigned.
Chef Bradley Stellings, who relocated from New York City for the job about a year ago, said he is leaving because he was not on board with changes owners plan to make to the restaurant this fall. The split with his former employers was amicable, Stellings said.
“It was a pleasure working for Grupo Habita and Convexity, however, after a successful opening with the hotel and Cafe Robey, there were persistent talks about re-concepting to more of a cafe/diner. I was not comfortable with those changes and left the company amicably a week ago Saturday,” Stellings told DNAinfo Monday.
The 31-year-old Stellings, who led a Cafe Robey team of about 15, is headed back to New York City.
“I wanted to open a restaurant successfully and I think as a team we accomplished that,” he said.
Kevin McAllister, who was a sous chef under Stellings, will replace Stellings, according to The Robey’s general manager Santiago Leon.
“We will be changing directions and still serving French American food, but through the eyes of Kevin and not Bradley. Cafe Robey will keep its essence. There will not be a diner serving burgers and burritos. The menu will change, but we are not changing the whole theme,” Leon said.
Cafe Robey will be “a little bit more fun,” Leon added.
“We were doing great food, with quality. It’s not about cheaper and more sandwiches. We think we are not enough fun, and want something that is more fun, and to have fun with what we are doing. The ingredients will be the same high quality. It’s not going to become Cracker Barrel (which I love by the way),” Leon said.
A spokeswoman for the hotel previously confirmed Stellings’ departure and forthcoming changes at the restaurant, including menu changes.
Leon said the menu will “go wider” with more choices for breakfast and lunch— though for dinner, the offerings will stick to one fish, one steak, one chicken, one duck.
Cafe Robey opened in November 2016.
A window display at Cafe Robey. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
Cafe Robey is located inside The Robey, a boutique hotel in Wicker Park. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]