Dec 23 2013
12:05 pm

Copper Cellar announced today that Bruce Bogartz is closing his RouXbarb restaurant Dec. 31st and will join Copper Cellar as corporate chef overseeing culinary operations for all Copper Cellar brands. Press release after the break...


Chef Bruce Bogartz Named Corporate Chef for Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants

RouXbarb Restaurant on Northshore Drive Will Close December 31

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — December 23, 2013 — Chef Bruce Bogartz started his career as a dishwasher at Copper Cellar restaurant in Knoxville. There, he realized that — in spite of the crazy hours and frantic pace — he wanted to spend his life in a kitchen. That was 25 years ago.

Since opening his popular RouXbarb restaurant on Northshore Drive five years ago, Chef Bogartz has built a cult-following. His focus on fresh, local ingredients and seasonal food made him part of the farm-to-table movement before there was a farm-to-table movement. Bogartz will close RouXbarb on New Year's Eve to become Corporate Chef for the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants.

"This is an amazing opportunity," Bogartz said. "I'll get to apply the creative approach that people loved at RouXbarb to a larger, well-established brand with multiple locations. It's the kind of opportunity a chef dreams about."

The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants operate 17 locations in Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Maryville and Lenoir City and includes the Copper Cellar, Calhoun’s, Chesapeake’s, Cherokee Grill Steakhouse and Smoky Mountain Brewery restaurants. For nearly 40 years, the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants have been known as "the taste of Tennessee".

Bart Fricks, Chief Operating Officer for the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants, said Bogartz is a special kind of chef who represents the future of the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants. "Bruce Bogartz understands the delicate balance between maintaining the core of our menu — the things people expect because we have been doing them better than anyone else for decades — and the new things that deliver a great, memorable culinary experience for our guests," Fricks said.

After serving as a Copper Cellar dishwasher, Bogartz graduated from the Philadelphia Culinary School. He worked as an Executive Chef for Warner Brothers in Aspen, CO and as a chef for HGTV before opening RouXbarb in 2008. His creations have received critical acclaim from Southern Living Magazine, Garden & Gun Magazine, the James Beard Foundation, AAA, and countless Tennessee publications. Chris Chamberlin of The Southern Foodie named RouXbarb one of the "100 places to eat in the South before you die" and the restaurant was featured in Garden & Gun Magazine as a "top 50 things in the South to eat". Bogartz was voted Metropulse "Best Chef" the last six years in a row.

Details of Bogartz's move to the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants include:

• RouXbarb Restaurant (130 S. Northshore Dr, Knoxville) will close December 31, 2013

• RouXbarb employees were notified and Bogartz is working with employees to find new jobs for them

• Bruce Bogartz will become Corporate Chef for Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants effective January 2, 2014

• Bogartz will serve as Corporate Chef for Calhoun's, Copper Cellar, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Chesapeake's, and Cherokee Grille Steakhouse.

Bogartz says the move to the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants is like a homecoming for him. "My first restaurant job was at Copper Cellar nearly 30 years ago," Bogartz said. "It's where I was first drawn to the kitchen. To come full-circle like this is pretty amazing."

Somebody's picture


I really like the Copper Cellar family of restaurants.

Is there a single example of Bogartz taking a leadership role at a restaurant that hasn't ended in disaster? The closest I can think of is his brief tenure at Oodles, but I think they got rid of him before he was able to destroy the place.

Seriously, what is the Cellar/Calhouns thinking?

This is the sort of guy who makes Gordon Ramsey go completely apoplectic on those TV shows where he tries to help restauranteurs fix their problems.

Look at the health inspections reports for Rouxbarb over the past few years (just type "Rouxbarb" in the search box on the linked site). Not only is Bogartz apparently not good at running a business, but the evidence suggests that he's not good at running a kitchen, either. The inspections reports indicate that he routinely has trouble with things like keeping the kitchen clean, washing his hands, maintaining clean and operational equipment and facilities, etc. These problems show up in the health scores not once, but over and over. For all the hype about "fresh, local ingredients" and "new things that deliver a great, memorable culinary experience," it seems like the first thing they should plan on is replacing the mints in the bowl by the door with Immodium tablets.

R. Neal's picture

Previously: Paging Robert


Paging Robert Irvine

Smoake Jones's picture

Chase probably has a pretty tight leash on Chef

Some people are good with running a restaurant business and some people are good at cooking. Very seldom do you have both built into the same human body.

Chase can tell you down to the penny how much cost he has in a plate of food served in his restaurant and Bogartz is very good at coming up with new and different things people like to eat. Bogartz is not very good at running a restaurant, but with the proper oversight, backup, and reformatting, he could be a good hire for Chase, particularly in this age where restaurants and restaurant chains are cratering left and right.

Chase didn't build his restaurant empire to see some messy chef run it into the ground, but there is some kitchen ability in there somewhere, it's just a matter for formatting it and putting it on a different platform.

Let's see if it works.

ProChef's picture

Placing bets

I put $1000 he is out in less than a year. Bruce has little respect in the culinary world. He is a terrible businessman and a rude, dirty person. I am shocked they are giving him this chance. I like the Calhoun's brand for what it is and as a foodservice professional I am dumbfounded they would gamble their name and reputation on him. Good luck in HR Bruce, you don't own the sandbox anymore.

richardalan's picture

Bogartz goes to Copper Cellar

It seems that some people have nothing better to do than post nasty comments, for one reason or another, about the success and good news they hear about others. Their negative, nasty postings about people are just a reflection of the way they feel about themselves. Our mothers were right again: "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, then don't say anything at all." That way you might actually respect yourself and gain the respect of others.


Factchecker's picture

I always go to Garden & Gun

I always go to Garden & Gun magazine when I'm looking for a satisfying culinary experience.

Granddaddy Richard's picture


All the best, Bruce, in your new professional challenge!
Blessings, Richard

cafkia's picture

I'm starting to think that

I'm starting to think that some folks are confusing an exec chef with a line cook. My guess is that Bruce will develop exclusive dishes for catered events and highend onsite parties as well as possibly designing new menu items. I have eaten a fair amount of Bogartz prepared food with nary an ill effect except for an increased tendency for gluttony. If he doesn't chafe too much against such supervision as he might get, this will be good for everyone except Chase's competitors.

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