Concrete Blonde Gets Delayed

You would think that being famous, a proven talent, and having a Bravo TV crew following you around would be a good way to attract investors and get yourself into a restaurant of your own. But then  again, this is the restaurant business so, apparently, you’d be wrong.

Grub Street talked to local hero/Top Chef cheftestant Jen Carroll about what was happening with her new restaurant concept, Concrete Blonde, and she let them know that while she was super-duper close to getting everything in line, at the last minute her investors bailed out and left her in Nowheresville. So what happens next?

Pop-ups, TV cameras and some re-grouping. Carroll has been cooking her way around town for the past couple months, arguably testing menu items for the new concept, but also just hanging out and doing what she does best. There’s also still that TV show in the future (Life After Top Chef, for which this funding snafu might make a nice narrative arc), and she is insisting that while this deal falling through has essentially put her back at the beginning of the restaurant-opening process, she is still committed to bringing Concrete Blonde to town.

The big question now, though, is where? Rumors have had Carroll poking around one of the ex Marathon spaces and the Restaurant Formerly Known As Tweed, but the last time we talked to her, she swore that the as-yet-undisclosed-and-now-no-longer-in-consideration space in Center City that was supposed to be Concrete Blonde was neither of these.

So we’re taking all suggestions. Since Carroll has to start all over again anyway, in a perfect world, where would you like to see her open, and why?

Jen Carroll’s Concrete Blonde is Currently On Hold [Grub Street]

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  • Haddon Henry

    You know, Jenn is a great example of Philadelphia, just like our sports teams, she got to the clutch and choked; both times on Top Chef and now with this.

    How sad is it that our local ‘hero’ is a loser who cried herself off a nation wide competition. Twice.

  • Daytime Drinker.

    Henry you are a loser.

    Why don’t you move to Utopia and leave us alone to enjoy Philly.
    Hopefully you aren’t actually from Haddonfield the pretend town in the loser state.

  • How about the former Tuscany Cafe on Rittenhouse Square at 19th and Locust? That entire building has been refurbished and Jenn Carroll would make for a great ground floor anchor. And it would bring some outdoor life to that side of the park.

  • FattyFatMan

    It is surprising that given her pedigree and celebrity, that she wasn’t able to make this happen in a mid-sized space like the above mentioned. Restaurants in Philly pop up like mushrooms in the forest after it rains. It makes you wonder what the rest of the story is.

    @Henry – Great cities like Chicago and New York love their losers (Jets, Mets, Cubs) as well as their winners. Philly should do the same.

    Hopefully, she finds a space and format where she can be successful.

  • JetJill

    Former Tuscany Cafe does sound good – is the kitchen larger than it was for the cafe?

  • Tex

    1. She should open in Haddonfield (kidding).

    2. She should take a look at 3rd and Bainbridge and open there after Ela closes which, if the lack of customers and my experience there this past weekend is any indication, is just a matter of time (semi-serious).

    3. She should open at the old Marathon on Chestnut by the old Borders. It has great visibility in a great area, and a good local restaurant might counteract the glorified Walgreens that’s going in where Borders was (seriously).

  • Buckethead

    @ Tex: Tell me more about #2, I didn’t like Ela much either.

  • Tex

    @FattyFatMan: You raise a good point, but I think it’s universally agreed that the Mets are unloveable.

  • Tex

    @Buckethead: Great cocktails, bland and generally uninteresting food. I guess that’s about it.

  • @Tex – As an ex-Marathon manager, I can tell you that the spot on Chestnut, despite was seems like prime location, has TERRIBLE visibility. Those windows are perma-tinted and would not be a smart move to be adjacent to O Garden & Lucky Strike’s neon.

    I say she follows in fellow TC alum, Sbraga’s, footsteps and looks south. There’s so much potential on south broad that’s totally untapped.

  • PVP

    How about the lot on the Corner of 17th & South next to Pumpkin? Or is that piece of land destined to sit there undeveloped for years to come.

  • FattyFatMan

    I think I have the same thoughts as everyone else – South St west, south Broad, maybe along Passyunk really anywhere between Broad and Bainbridge.

    Sorry to hear Ela wasn’t good.

    I went there a couple months back a few days before Inquirer review came out and had an amazing meal. Oysters, scallop “pasta,” Vietnamese rice balls, and duck were all spectacular. Cocktails were also amazing.

  • Chaz

    I can invest $ 35,000 to Chef Carroll, to help she is awesome

  • lonleyJam15

    She should talk to Ori Feibush about the triple wide restaurant space he wants to build at 1612-1616 South St.

    This could be a flagship addition to what is becoming a fantastic stretch of new bars and restaurants

  • JetJill

    I’d love to have her on South Street West (or, as I like to call it, Royal South). Anyone know if she was looking for large (like the triple in the 1600 block)?

  • Tex

    @Erin, in that case maybe it would attract walk-ins thinking an establishment called “Concrete Blonde” provides adult entertainment. She could also lean out the door and see the Ritz Carlton if she got homesick. Seriously though, you might be right. I just always though the Marathon was prominently visible, particularly with the tables outside.

  • wormtown

    How about the new spot that supposed to be opening at 6th and Bainbridge next to Beau monde?
    That may make a great place for her to do her thing.

  • SS BIZ

    Maybe if she did not get wasted & make a fool of herself at major events her investors would stick around. If you want your own place you need to act like an adult and not a college kid. I was cringing at how banged up she was last week at Vetri’s event.

  • Slick Rick

    Jenny, you are awesome. Def one of the best cooks I have ever worked with. To this day I still tell people about the sheen on the chorizo sauce– insane!!- so perfect. Hope you find the space you deserve.
    South Philly is where I put my bet

  • ispeak

    Concrete blonde is a dumb name. shes not a hero she makes food, not save lives. She does get wasted/coke up a lot and south philly wont deal w allllll that ego. Take break go to rehab and consider a new name.

  • anon

    Oh Man… this 2nd rate city has the lamest collection of know nothings and clueless haters.

    • ispeak

      @Anon, then move.

  • Michael G

    We have lame haters? I thought our haters were pretty good. I mean just read the comments and you will see we hate well and with venom.

  • Kyle

    How is it Johnette Napolitano and Jim Mankey haven’t sued the SHIT out of this upstart woman for naming her pretentious little restaurant after one of the most famous rock bands of the 80s and 90s? Michael Stipe of R.E.M. gave them the name “Concrete Blonde” back in the mid-80s when their Hollywood-based band was still called Dream 6. Concrete Blonde are still together, producing music, and touring, so how is it this chick managed to use the name? Odd.

    • barrygster

      Probably because it doesn’t exist, but even if it did, most consumers know the difference between a restaurant and a rock band.