New chef to step in January 2.

Changes coming to Coco’s Bistro as top chef departs

Coco’s Bistro will soon have a new chef at the helm of its kitchen after the departure of the executive chef who had led the Dayton restaurant’s kitchen for about five years over two separate stints.

Darin Mitchell — who helped open Coco’s Bistro’s previous location on Wayne Avenue more than a decade ago, and who returned to the restaurant about three years ago after it moved in 2012 to its current location at 250  Warren St.  just south of downtown Dayton — has stepped down, and starting Jan. 2, chef Bryan Ondre  will step in to lead the kitchen, according to Karen Wick-Gagnet, Coco’s co-owner.

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Mitchell “has been looking for other opportunities,” Wick-Gagnet told this news outlet. She praised Mitchell’s work at her restaurant, and said he had “no animosity toward Darin” for his decision. Attempts to reach Mitchell last week were unsuccessful.

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 Ondre has worked in the kitchens of several full-service Dayton-area restaurants, including the former Pacchia, as well as Salar and most recently Coldwater Cafe in Tipp City. He also spent five years at Serratto Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon. 

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In a release, Ondre said, “I’m excited about the opportunity to prepare the food I like to cook and to be downtown at Coco’s. Coco’s has such a great and supportive environment, and I am excited to bring my own take on food to the community through this opportunity.” 

“I feel like I learned something from every chef I worked under,” Ondre said. “But then I took it and made it my own style, and I can’t wait to bring that to Coco’s. 

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Wick-Gagnet said in a phone interview that there will be no sudden, sweeping changes to the Coco’s Bistro menu. 

“We will tweak and adjust initially,” she said. But diners will likely see an increased focus on small-plate offerings, many of which will build on the restaurant’s a farm-to-table approach, the Coco’s founder said.

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“The people who dine here are our friends and neighbors,” Wick-Gagnet said in a release. “People come to Coco’s to create memories and have meaningful, authentic experiences, and we are looking forward to sharing new experience with them in 2019 when Bryan comes on board.”

A wine dinner is in the works in early January to help introduce Ondre, Wick-Gagnet said.

Coco’s Bistro got its start more than two decades ago on East Fifth Street in the Oregon District.

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