by ERIN MEYERING
Chef Mark Estee is adding another restaurant and style of cuisine to his repertoire. The owner of Italian restaurant Campo (voted Best New Restaurant in 2012 by Esquire) in Reno, and two Burger Me locations in Reno and Truckee, is now looking toward opening a French-inspired eatery. The Nevada Museum of Art (NMA) is collaborating with the local food fanatic to create a new restaurant called chezlouie.
“[Estee’s] energy really attracted us, his energy and creativity speak to the museum’s mission,” Rachel Milon, director of communications and marketing at NMA, said. “He has such a presence and such a personality and we wanted that vibe and that energy in the space.”
Estee described chezlouie as: fun, feminine, and French.
Estee’s new venture will live inside the NMA, replacing Composition Café, the museum’s former eatery and catering company run by Chef Robert (B.J.) Mueller. For its one year operating in the NMA, Composition Café served gourmet burgers, fresh salads, and sandwiches. Chef Mueller will now focus on Sauce Wagon, his local food truck and on his catering business.
Chezlouie will revamp Composition’s menu by offering interpretations of French classics while keeping the focus on using local and sensible ingredients. The physical location of the space will also be renovated with new furniture and decorations. The main set up of the restaurant — indoor seating with an outdoor patio — will stay the same.
“[Estee] is dedicated to good food and he’s not interested in cutting corners,” Milon said.
The name chezlouie is a combination of the French word chez meaning at, and louie, a word Estee described as slang for friend in Italian. The Italian reference combined with the French represents Estee’s love for his restaurant Campo and his excitement for the new venture alongside the NMA. The idea is to bring high-class cuisine and a refined taste to a comfortable, friendly and enjoyable setting.
“[chezlouie] will be modern and refined in both food and service,” Estee said.
The new restaurant is expected to be open by mid-October, just in time to compliment Masquerade at Moulin Rouge, an event showcasing French cuisine, cancan dancers, and a chanteuse — a sexy piano show. The event also kicks off the museum’s exhibition for Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1800-1910, a celebration of the work of Parisian avant-garde artists during that era. The event takes place Nov. 2, 2013.
“Being in the NMA will expose us to a whole new demographic of people, it gives myself, my managers and our team a chance to do something new and fun,” Estee said.