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DRG to Open Oven and Cellar Downtown. Chef Kelly Hightower Rejoins Company

Glory Days: Kelly Hightower at Wild Salsa. (Photography by Kevin Marple)
Glory Days: Kelly Hightower at Wild Salsa. (Photography by Kevin Marple)

Mike Hoque, CEO of  DRG Concepts, is on fire. Chop House Burger just opened a second location Euless and others are planned for Fort Worth and Southlake. A second Wild Salsa will debut in Fort Worth in January 2015. If that is not enough, DRG is jumping into the Italian food business. They will open Oven and Cellar in late (November) 2014 at 1900 Elm in downtown Dallas.

Manuel De Martino, a native of Sardinia, has been working with the brand since 2007. He will be the operating manager for Oven and Cellar. He will be joined by Kelly Hightower who has rejoined the ranks of DRG. Hightower left the kitchen at Wild Salsa in February. “I’ve had a rough three months both personally and professionally,” Hightower says. “But I’m back and ready to go.”

Hightower’s new position will be corporate chef. He will work closely with the culinary team leader chef AJ Joglekar to develop Oven and Cellar and the expansion of the DRG brand.

Back to Oven and Cellar: The154-seat restaurant at the corner of Main and St. Paul Streets, will feature handmade pastas and charcuterie, pizza, sandwiches, and wine. The atmosphere will be casual, and the prices will be similar to Wild Salsa. “We understand the downtown population,” Nafees Alam, vice president and founding partner of DRG Concepts says. “We want residents to feel comfortable in our restaurants and in their pocketbooks.”

The culinary team has traveled to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and sampled other Italian concepts. They plan to head to Italy in mid-summer.