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Minutes ago, Bob Sambol told his staff and investors that he is decamping the legendary Bob’s Steak & Chop House to take a job at MCrowd. Come Monday, diners at the Mercury Grill will find Sambol waiting to greet them at the front door. He’ll run that operation and will spearhead an MCrowd foray into fine dining with as-yet-unnamed future restaurants in the Dallas area.
Naturally, if you’ve been playing along at home, you are right now recalling that Sambol is a thief who recently copped to stealing $300,000 from an investor. I asked MCrowd co-owner Ray Washburne why he would take on that risk and the baggage that comes with it. I found it curious that he didn’t have a ready answer and seemed to be thinking out loud as he looked for one. Washburne said Sambol is a talented guy and a hard worker. “In the restaurant business,” he said, “you have very few people who are true restaurateurs, who work the door and know their customers’ names.” Sambol is one of those guys. (Washburne said Al Biernat is another.) But Washburne also said the hire was a real Dallas thing. “One reason Dallas is a great city is if you’re honest and you work hard, people are willing to listen to you,” he said. I replied, “Honest?” Washburne laughed and said, “We’re all sinners. Bob has addressed his issues. He’s looking for a fresh start, and working with the structure that MCrowd has, he can flourish.” Hang on, though. There’s one more reason Washburne gave for making the hire. Sambol got deferred adjudication and is on probation for 10 years. “If he messes up once,” Washburne said, “he’s done. He’s got a gun to his head.” In other words, he thinks Sambol is a safe bet.
For his part, Sambol told Nancy: “I’m really excited. I’ve had some incredible heart-to-heart talks with all of the partners. I’ve been honest with them, and I respect [Mercury Grill chef Chris Ward] and his staff. We are not looking back. We’re looking forward to increasing business and perhaps creating new projects for Chris.”
Ward is known for being, oh, let’s call it quiet. What is going to happen when MCrowd installs an operator at the Mercury who has grown accustomed, over the years, to having his name on the building? “Bob has a great passion for the restaurant business,” Ward said. “He has plans to boost the business at Mercury. We’ve also talked about doing another restaurant together.”