by Tashika Varma
After 30 years in the restaurant business, Dallas renowned Chef John Coleman has landed the sought after restaurant spot in Klyde Warren Park for his first solo project — Savor and Relish. The restaurant is set to open in early fall 2013.
On a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon, one side of Klyde Warren Park is packed with popular food trucks like The Butcher’s Son, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, Crazy Fish, Gandolfo’s and Relish. In peak lunch hours, the park gets crowded and lines for food from the food trucks get longer. While many of the trucks are only there on select days, the Relish food truck, owned by Chef John Coleman, has become a permanent fixture of the park.
Coleman has spent over 30 years in the restaurant industry and the past 23 years with Ritz Carlton Hotels. He has not only landed a spot for his food truck, but a sought-after restaurant spot in Klyde Warren Park for his first solo project. Savor, which is will be the main restaurant at the park, will be a gastro pub concept with fresh food. Relish, which is currently a food truck in the park, will become Savor’s companion kiosk for quick outdoor dining and take out. Both are set to open in fall of 2013.
“This is a culmination of my life’s work,” Coleman said. “I have three daughters and this restaurant opening is like giving birth to a new child.”
Jessica Franson comes to Klyde Warren Park once or twice a month. She brings her kid with her to have fun in kids play area while she tries out different food trucks each time.
“If the restaurant is the same people who are running the Relish food truck, then it’s sure to be good,” she said. “I would love to be able to come here with my kid to play and enjoy lunch at a sit down restaurant all in one afternoon.”
Once the restaurant is built, the kiosk Relish will replace the food truck. It’s not just Coleman’s cooking and innovative burgers that have been making him shine in the restaurant industry. The new restaurant will introduce a new star chef to the Dallas restaurant scene, according to Mark Banta, president of Klyde Warren Park.
“John is bringing us three key ingredients — a great sit-down restaurant, a unique patio and bar area and a quick kiosk with an affordable park meal,” Banta said in a press release.
Savor’s chef-driven menu will consist of shared plates like baked ricotta with house-made flatbread and buttermilk-fried calamari. The 5,200-square foot restaurant will have a large outdoor patio lounge, a bar with a wall of beer, wine kegs and a custom mixology program, bringing the entire area to about 11,000 square feet.
Joanna Singleton works for Jackson Spalding, a public relations firm working directly with Klyde Warren Park, and knows Coleman personally.
“He’s a dad of three girls and a cool laid back guy,” Singleton said. “With his guitar playing, snowboarding and outdoorsy nature, he’s unlike other chefs.”
Coleman, 45, is no newbie to the restaurant business. He broke into the business as a kid of 15 when he worked at Hilltop Steakhouse. One night he was thrown into the kitchen and asked to cook. It was in that moment that he realized that he loved cooking. He ended up working in the restaurant business in the Boston area before finally deciding to go back and get his culinary and hotel restaurant management degree.
Coleman then went to work with the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain where he stayed for 23 years. He opened up hotels for them around the world and was most recently the executive chef and director of food and beverage for Ritz-Carlton in Uptown Dallas.
“To be honest, the switch from the Ritz to Relish has been a transition to say at least,” he said.
But it was one Coleman immediately wanted to make when he heard about Kylde Warren Park, which opened in October 2012. He knew that the park would be looking to open a permanent restaurant so he went to them with the idea of opening a gastro pub.
“I looked at what should be in the park and decided since the park is a unique location, the restaurant needed to draw people together,” he said.
Since the restaurant is still being built, Relish food truck will be serving up burgers in the meantime.
“With the restaurant at Klyde Warren still under contraction, the food truck was the perfect way to introduce our branding,” Coleman said.
The food truck, which opened last fall, offers visitors a quick bite to eat while introducing Coleman’s food to the park. From just a plain burger to a corn chow chow and a pepper jack and tarragon mayo burger, Relish is serving up burger combinations that have the lines much longer than the surrounding food trucks. Coleman finally solved the messy burger problem by creating a burger where the ingredients are mixed into the patty and then grilled.
Relish is a hit among park goers. Dottie Mckee spent an afternoon in the park and recently found out about the new restaurant.
“It was the first time I had every heard about a restaurant in the park,” she said. “But I just ate at the Relish food truck and enjoyed it, so the restaurant will probably be just as good.”
Savor and Relish is set to open in fall 2013, probably in October or November.
Tashika Varma is a senior at Southern Methodist University majoring in communication studies and minoring in journalism.