Raleigh restaurateur reviving Michael Dean's concept under new name

Seafood restaurant to open in Cary as partners ‘divide and conquer’

aweigl@newsobserver.comDecember 14, 2012 

Raleigh restaurateur Dean Ogan, who got his start in the Triangle restaurant scene with the much-loved Michael Dean’s, is reviving his original restaurant concept under a new name.

Ogan, 44, is an owner of Rocky Top Hospitality restaurant group. Michael Dean’s, his seafood-focused restaurant, opened in North Raleigh in 1998 and closed in 2011.

Ogan plans to transform Rockwell’s, one of his company’s restaurants in Cary, into Dean’s Seafood & Oysters after the first of the year. At Dean’s, Ogan also will once again be in the kitchen cooking, which is how he got started in the restaurant business.

In other news, Ogan said he also plans to close Draft, a beer and burger restaurant in Glenwood South at the end of the year. Plus, he and his business partner, Jeff Schenk, plan to divide up the company’s properties to focus on their divergent brands.

Ogan will control Dean’s, Twisted Fork in North Raleigh, The Daily Planet Cafe at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the catering company and space called 1705 Prime off Millbrook Road.

Schenk will take over the two locations of Tribeca Tavern, a gourmet burger restaurant in Raleigh and Cary, and the Mash House, a brewery and restaurant in Fayetteville. Schenk, a beverage consultant, said his company will likely be called Tribeca Hospitality Group.

This way Ogan can return to the kitchen, and Schenk can focus on the successful Tribeca Tavern brand.

“The right thing to do to maximize value for our teams was to divide and conquer,” Schenk said. “Dean and I are going to help each other every step of the way.”

About slimming his responsibilities and heading back into the kitchen, Ogan said, “I’m going to get back to having a little more fun.”

Located in the Preston Walk shopping center off N.W. Cary Parkway, Dean’s will serve between three and eight types of oysters and up to 10 types of fish that customers can choose to pair with one of more than a dozen sauces. The menu, which will change every Monday, will include a description of the flavor of each fish, where and how it was caught and even how to pronounce the name.

“Sometimes seafood can be intimidating,” said Ogan, who wants restaurant to be unpretentious and casual while offering well-prepared fresh seafood.

Ogan said Rockwell’s, which served American comfort food such as fried chicken and meatloaf, started well in that location but soon faced stiff competition from a number of restaurants opening in nearby Park West Village, such as Travinia Italian Kitchen and Ruckus Pizza and Pasta, plus a handful of fast casual eateries.

Draft’s closing on Jan. 1 coincides with the end of the company’s lease in that Glenwood South building, where Ogan once operated three restaurants alongside one another: Bogart’s, Hi5, which later became Draft, and Red Room.

The company plans use the last 12 days that Draft is in business to raise money for charities. Ten percent of the restaurant’s proceeds will be donated each night, starting Dec. 20 and culminating New Year’s Eve, to a designated charity from the Triangle Red Cross to the Southern Siberian Rescue Group. For details, go to goo.gl/DFzVE.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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