JUST IN: Dayton’s most awarded chef heads to Florida to launch new restaurant

Anne Kearney of Rue Dumaine fame to open ‘OAK&OLA’ in Tampa area

The Miami Valley’s most awarded chef left her hometown of Dayton for the second time Monday, this time to launch a new restaurant venture in Tampa, Florida.

Anne Kearney, who earned multiple James Beard Foundation chef awards during her time at Rue Dumaine in Washington Twp., will open a new restaurant called 'OAK&OLA' in the Tampa, Florida area, Kearney told her followers and former Rue Dumaine diners in an email yesterday afternoon, Aug. 27.

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OAK&OLA will be “a 100-plus seat, Euro-American restaurant” in Tampa Heights, Kearney wrote. “Construction begins any day,” and menu testing will commence within the next few weeks, she said in the email.

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 “I’m looking looking forward to expanding my culinary reach with a whole new group of restaurant industry professionals, plus a vast new clientele base to tap into, both locally and in the constant, moving flow of tourism and conventions” in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, she said.

The former Rue Dumaine, at 1061 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, shut down permanently in July 2017 after a decade-long run. The restaurant changed its name to Bar Dumaine a few months before shutting down.

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The first time she left her hometown of Dayton, she went to New Orleans from 1991 through 2004. She co-founded Peristyle restaurant in New Orleans, and in 2002, Kearney was named a James Beard Foundation best-chef award winner in the southeastern U.S. for her work at Peristyle.

It would not be her last recognition from the Beard Foundation, whose awards are regarded as the nation’s most prestigious recognition program for the food and beverage business — the equivalent of the Academy Awards of the restaurant industry. 

 >> FLASHBACK: Bar Dumaine reveals its new menu (February 2017)

Kearney moved back to the Dayton area in 2004, and in 2007, she co-founded Rue Dumaine. The following year, the Beard Foundation recognized Rue Dumaine, naming it a semifinalist for the foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” in the nation.

Then, for six consecutive years from 2011 through 2016, the Beard Foundation named Kearney a semifinalist for its “Best Chefs in America” competition for the Great Lakes region. Kearney was the only chef from the Dayton area, and one of only three in Ohio, to be named to that list in 2016.  And she remains the only Dayton-area restaurant chef to make that list in the Beard Foundation’s history.

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In recent months, Kearney has served as a private chef and hosted some “pop-up” events at other restaurants, while planning the Florida venture. She urged her former Rue Dumaine and private-event customers to visit her new restaurant in Tampa. 

“There will be a few ol’ favorites to devour,” she promised.

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“Thank you to any and all of you for spending this time with me,” Kearney wrote to her Dayton-area followers. “Breaking bread together is a very personal thing to do, especially with fellow foodies, very gratifying.”

“Miss you already.”

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