Twisted Ranch Chef Quit During Soft Opening, Owner Says

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Johnathan Tinker (left), who had been hired as the chef at Twisted Ranch, is shown here with owners Jim Hayden and Chad Allen. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • Johnathan Tinker (left), who had been hired as the chef at Twisted Ranch, is shown here with owners Jim Hayden and Chad Allen.

UPDATE: We've heard from the chef who walked off the job. See the latest for more information.

Original post follows:

Johnathan Tinker, the chef who'd been slated to open the nation's first ranch-dressing-themed restaurant, Twisted Ranch, walked off the job 20 minutes into the restaurant's first night of soft opening on June 26, as the restaurant's co-owner confirmed to Riverfront Times this morning.

The unexpected departure has pushed back the restaurant's opening. Twisted Ranch had originally announced a June 30 opening date, only to announce on Facebook just a day or two before that the date had changed. Up until this point, no explanation had been given.

But co-owners Jim Hayden and Chad Allen have since hired another chef and hope to announce a new opening date soon.

See also: 5 Things That May Surprise You About St. Louis' Ranch-Dressing Themed Restaurant

The restaurateurs had not wanted to publicize the walk-off because they bear Tinker no ill will, Hayden says. He only confirmed the departure when questioned directly by Riverfront Times.

"He walked out without a saying a word," Hayden says. "We tried calling, and he did not respond."

Fried dill pickles with ranch on the side -- one of the items Tinker had planned to served at Twisted Ranch. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • Fried dill pickles with ranch on the side -- one of the items Tinker had planned to served at Twisted Ranch.

Hayden says he even reviewed video footage to see if something had upset the young chef, but couldn't find anything that explained the situation. "We weren't even that busy," he says.

The restaurant has already drawn an unbelievable amount of press coverage -- with the very idea of a restaurant based around ranch dressing generating media attention and intense Internet interest. And that's one reason Hayden says he's looking at the chef's departure as a blessing in disguise: "It's better we found out he wasn't the right fit now before we open our doors officially," he says.

The new opening could be as early as a week or two, Hayden says. In addition to bringing on a permanent new chef, the owners are contemplating a short-term solution that would allow them to get the doors open and let the servers start making money.

"We want to get a plan together and see what we can do," he says.

Tinker does not have a listed phone number or public Facebook profile, and so we have been unable to reach him for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back from him.

UPDATE on July 10: See Johnathan Tinker's response in our most recent update.

We welcome tips and feedback. Contact the writer via email at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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