March 16, 2012
Billy Zoellin prepping to open his own restaurant

AA GOLDEN BEAR4.jpgBilly Zoellin's creative takes on simple cuisine while he was the chef at the Golden Bear attracted national attention and won him many new fans on the local food scene.

After a topsy-turvy year, Zoellin is getting ready to open his own place - a breakfast, lunch and espresso spot on 21st Street he's calling Bacon & Butter.

"It's really exciting. I've got a great opportunity," said the chef.

The restaurant will be housed within Club 21. Other restaurants have tried to make a go of it in the same spot, without much luck.

"I walked through and saw a great opportunity. No one has really been successful (as a restaurant) in that building, mostly because of inconsistency and lack of effort," Zoellin said.

After toiling for others in the restaurant business, Zoellin is looking forward to being his own boss.

At the Golden Bear, Zoellin made a big splash last year on an episode of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network. But it wasn't exactly a seamless road to glory afterward. He left the midtown bar/restaurant and eventually landed at Patrick Mulvaney's Crocker Café. That went well for a time, but it eventually ended with Zoellin and Mulvaney agreeing to part ways. Mulvaney later opted to pull out of the Crocker.

Bacon & Butter will be Zoellin's first restaurant and it will be a chance to do things his way.

"It's a world of difference," the chef said. "I wake up tired, but I don't feel defeated."

Zoellin, 28, is still working on the menu and we will provide more details here as his plans take shape.

He plans to have a by-invitation, charity-focused flapjack breakfast on April 1. Then he hopes to open for business about a month later - if all goes according to plan.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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