What Does Stephen Starr Have Up His Sleeve?

As most everyone knows by now, Stephen Starr’s latest restaurant, Butcher and Singer, is having its opening night this coming Monday. Housed in what used to be the Striped Bass

Starr says he wanted the old Striped Bass to look like the Original Delmonico’s Steakhouse in New York, the Brown Derby in L.A. and/or Philly’s long-gone Frankie Bradley’s. Menu includes such old-timey stuff as steak tartare prepared tableside, Caesar salad prepared tableside, lobster Newburg, surf-and-turf (filet and cold-water lobster tail), steak Diane, and baked Alaska. [The Insider]

That all sounds very good — and classic old-fashioned chophouse is a pretty reliable recipe for success or something like it. But, it hasn’t escaped our notice that this venture was planned before the economy collapsed like a failed souffle, and we’ve been wondering both how Butcher and Singer is going to fare and what kind of restaurant Starr might be cooking up for his next project.

This week’s Table Talk mentioned that Starr

had a signed agreement of sale for the low-slung building that houses Letto Deli, still operating at 13th and Chancellor Streets in Wash West. Letto’s owner and the building owner have not returned my calls over the last week. Starr’s ideas for the place are Love Burger (a long-in-the-planning-stage gourmet-burger joint) or a pizza/wine/beer restaurant with a cool aspect he’s not fully talking about yet. [Table Talk]

This certainly sounds like a pared down, more humble project than Butcher and Singer, or even Parc, so we accepted it as pretty solid intel on what the next Starr joint would look like.

That is, until today, when we read a post on Grub Street. Apparently, Daniel Maurer over there talked to Starr over the phone just today, who told him that [post-Butcher and Singer] his plan is “to open in Philly a fifteen- to twenty-seat, chef-driven restaurant, though he won’t give the name of the chef or the restaurant.” What’s more, “Starr acknowledges ‘you can’t make any real money with that many seats,’ but at the same time he believes the era of the ‘big boxes’ (a term that, incidentally, he isn’t fond of) is a thing of the past.”

This update doesn’t necessarily discredit the possibility of a pizza/wine/beer or gourmet burger restaurant, but at the same time, it sure doesn’t sound like the same project to us. So what is it? A tiny chef-driven restaurant or one of the first two options? Or (OMG), could it be both? Either way, we’re looking forward to finding out more.

On a related note, Starr will be at “Top Chef: Taste of the Five Boroughs” in New York City this Monday… and so will we! He’ll be answering questions in a discussion with Tom Collichio and the aforementioned Daniel Maurer, and we will be sure to report back.

“Exclusive: Stephen Starr Will Open Tom-Like Restaurant in Philly, Says Big Boxes Are Over” [Grub Street]
Parc [MenuPages]
Parc [Official Site]

[Photo: via Butcher and Singer]

What Does Stephen Starr Have Up His Sleeve?