Chef Kris Fuller, of the Crafted culinary empire, called the meeting, and Tal Blevins, one of the minds behind the Machete supper club, hosted at his College Hill home. Machete Executive Chef Kevin Cottrell and Chef de Cuisine Lydia Greene leaned around the island in Blevins’ kitchen, where a lone journalist sat with pen poised.
“I’ll just say it,” Fuller said. “Machete will be moving into the Street Food location.”
And the weight of the thing settled in.
Fuller opened Crafted Street Food in 2015 in the burgeoning LoFi neighborhood to showcase global food trends that influenced her cuisine. This was before Art of the Taco moved across Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, before she opened Bites & Pints with Mike Bosco on Spring Garden Street, before the Winston-Salem taco shop on Liberty Street.
Machete relied on the talents of Cottrell and Greene, who became available after La Rue melted down, for a well-regarded series of private dinners at Blevins’ house with adventurous cuisine from a post-fusion, post-molecular gastronomy perspective.
“We just call it ‘Modern American,’” Cottrell said.
The Machete crew has been seeking a brick-and-mortar restaurant for more than a year, with Fuller’s guidance and expertise lending an assist. But then, some things happened.
Fuller had a tough year. There were health problems in the family, a longtime manager died in a car accident, and another left in July, forcing Fuller back into the restaurant when her family needed her most. When her lease came up at Street Food, she reassessed. She could push through and get the restaurant back on track within a year, but maybe that wasn’t the answer.
What started as a joke — Maybe Machete should just move into the LoFi spot? — became a serious question.
“I still thought she was joking,” Blevins said. The place is perfect for the Machete concept, with a kitchen that can accommodate all manner of cuisine, the right sort of dining room for what they had in mind, a growing neighborhood and a crew of vetted employees from which they could draw. Some will stay with the Crafted organization; others will be invited to join the Machete team.
“We’ll want to keep as many employees as possible,” Blevins said. “We want a smooth transition.”
The changeover is slated for early January. Blevins said there will be some cosmetic changes before the opening — tables, drapery, a new coat of paint — to conform more with Machete’s quirky brand of excellence.
“I wouldn’t just hand the space over to anybody,” Fuller said. “They’ve got a great concept, two young, up-and-coming chefs who are doing these incredible dinners. They need a jumping-off point.”
Fuller says Crafted’s last service will be on Dec. 28. Machete hopes to open by mid-January.