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Village Kitchen and Toko V in Highland Park Village to Close

andre
Chef Andre Natera.

Partners Brian Twomey and Mark Hearl will close Village Kitchen and Toko V after dinner service on March 29. Twomey and Hearl took one of the largest restaurant real estate gambles in recent history and lost the battle. They  fought valiantly not only with money, but with creativity. After an initial high-dollar finish out of the historic space and a couple of major overhauls to the interior, they are closing their checkbooks.

The restaurant space they leased for ten years in Highland Park Village has the highest rent per square foot in town. It opened on April 27, 2011 as Marquee Grill and Bar with an all-star staff that included executive chef Tre Wilcox, mixologist Jason Kosmas, and general manager Justin Beam. After the initial buzz wore off, they changed the menu to a “more approachable list of items,” but they confused customers by switching the name to Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar on July 9, 2012. Five months later, Tre Wilcox resigned and just when we thought it was all over, Twomey and Hearl hired former Pyramid execuchef Andre Natera chef Andre Natera on January 15, 2013. Natera has worked like a crazy man to retool the menu and create a cozier, family friendly atmosphere in the downstairs space. Upstairs Hearl created Toko V, a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese influences.

Twomey and Hearl have reached an agreement with the landlord to terminate the long lease. They plan to hang on to Natera and relocate. They will continue to operate Twomey Concepts (Toko V, Village Kitchen,Common Table) and have been entertaining several other locations for months now for Toko and Village Kitchen. Ray Washburne, managing partner of Highland Park Village, says there are no firm plans for what the space will become.

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  • Greg Brown

    A huge space with a huge rent is tough to pull off. Anytime a restaurant radically changes the menu to “Texas Cuisine” you might as well turn out the lights and call the party over.

  • Greg Brown

    A huge space with a huge rent is tough to pull off. Anytime a restaurant radically changes the menu to “Real Texas Cuisine” you might as well turn out the lights and call the party over.

  • JustMe

    And yet, just across the lot Bistro 31 is killing it with their numbers. And has had an expansion since they opened, which was right around the same time as Marquee.

    Are people sick of the ego served with every meal? Chefs, owners, landlords, with a “build it and they will come” meme in their head should see a psychiatrist, not write a business plan.

  • E NB

    Anytime a restaurant starts with one concept and then changes in order to stay afloat, a message is sent. Credibility is lost with the customers. Just my humble opinion, as one in the business.

  • UknowTheTruth

    Well when go from having an All star staff and a Big name chef to fill in’s and c level hotel chef it not going to be the same. Some chef’s just can’t perform at the level. Let’s just say…Chef Andre Natera was his own biggest fan! No matter what press or “food critics” try to pump up a chef the real truth comes out in the food. And if the foods not good people will not come.

  • Robert

    I love both of those restaurants! I know they will be relocated but they were perfect there. So dissapointed

  • mrEmannE

    Selling class in an expensive location is fine, if there’s enough “mass” in the mix. If enough people don’t walk in the door, the lights go off. That simple.