Kris Wessel is going big this spring with the announcement of Oolite Restaurant & Bar.
The restaurant, to be located in the former Cooper Avenue space just off Lincoln Road at 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., is scheduled to open May 30. The restaurant's name is derived from the limestone and coral rock foundation that composes the southern tip of Florida. In essence, Oolite is South Florida.
The James Beard-nominated chef, who has partnered with Roman Cherstvov for the endeavor, will tackle the expansive 200-seat space in three distinct parts. Cherstvov and partners took over the Cooper Avenue space in June 2013 with hopes of developing an upscale restaurant and brewery.
First and foremost, the restaurant will feature healthful dining. Taking the concept of the "oolite foundation" to heart, Wessel will show his love for regional, local cuisine by concentrating on "simplified eating with plant, land, and sea-based protein-driven offerings."
Of note is the fact that the kitchen will adhere to the limited use of processed ingredients, gluten, and saturated fats. In other words, the restaurant will offer true locavore cuisine that uses natural flavors instead of chemical enhancements.
Oolite also will feature a bar area, and later in the year, a separate lounge concept will be launched.
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Wessel was chef/owner at the beloved Red Light Little River, an intimate space that garnered a loyal following for its fresh, regional comfort food prepared nightly by Wessel.
Red Light closed in 2012, and shortly thereafter, Wessel opened Florida Cookery at the James Royal Palm Hotel, which he left to form Consume Restaurant Group in November 2013. The company was created with the hope of developing restaurants in Miami and New Orleans, where Wessel spent much of his childhood.