Chefs Bryan and Christina "Mac" Burt have abandoned plans to move their popular 820 Bistro to the old Woolworth's Building in downtown Longview, but both are back in the kitchen.
"Investors pulled out at the last minute," Bryan Burt said Monday at his Longview home, explaining why opening the new eatery never panned out. "We had nowhere to go."
The Burts opened 820 Bistro in October, and the place quickly established a reputation as a hot spot for creative dishes. A pizza place has opened at the West Side Highway location that the Burts, anticipating their move to downtown Longview, abandoned in August.
With collapse of their new venture, the Burts re-evaluated their business and their future.
"The past year moved too quickly, it was all a blur," Burt said. "We needed to slow down and take baby steps."
The time off allowed Mac Burt to start c8er20 — pronounced "cater-20" — a catering and private chef service.
Meanwhile, Country Folks Deli owner Keli Coscia hired Bryan Burt as chef of CFD — Country Folks Diner, which occupies the back half of the restaurant offering fine dining Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
"I've had customers raving about the food at 820," said Coscia, who admits she has never tried Bryan Burt's cooking. "I like his creative menu. It's so different from what Longview has had in the past."
Bryan Burt will have control over the menu, she said.
"But it won't be another 820," said Burt, who starts cooking on Thursday.
The Burts had big plans to utilize the 57-year-old Woolworth's lunch counter and sell fresh baked goods in-house. Scott Vydra, who owns the Woolworth's Building, said he will continue to remodel the space the Burts were planning to move into and lease it.
"I've talked to a couple of Realtors about listing it," said Vydra, who currently is remodeling some Longview apartment buildings he owns. " … Right now it's low priority."
The Burts still hope that iconic lunch counter will be in business.
"That's an amazing space and we're sad it didn't work out," Mac Burt said. "We just couldn't do it. That counter deserves something special, though."
"I'm sure we confused a lot of people — including ourselves — but now that the dust settled, I think it will all work out," Bryan Burt added.