I have a pile of emails from unhappy employees of both locations of Blackfinn American Saloon. Sure, people get upset when a business goes under, but people really get angry and type about it when they don’t get paid. This group of ten people all claim they are owed money by Blackfinn owner Bill McCrorey. The strongest voice of them all comes from one of McCrorey’s former employee, TK Koen. He writes:
I am contacting you because of the article you did on in June of 2009 about Bill, Republic and his being in trouble for not paying employees and the TABC.
Well, he is at it again, but on a much grander scale. Bill has acquired both the Blackfinn in Arlington and Addison, a bar down town called Stone Street Martini Bar, Sanchitos in Plano and is trying to open Rare at Park and Central. But he has done it on the backs of good employees and vendors he has failed to pay. He closed Blackfinn in Arlington without paying the staff and owes money to much of the staff in Addison not to mention thousands in unpaid vendors including liquor vendors, which is a violation of TABC rules. He is deeply in debt to the state comptroller for not paying taxes and he hasn’t filled payroll taxes in some time.
You may remember McCrorey when he owned Las Colinas Prime. I wrote a series of reports detailing The Saga of Republic Turned Las Colinas Prime It was a nasty tale of unpaid employees, TABC violations, and pissed-off vendors told through one of the principals, Michael Costa.
I’ve contacted McCrorey and his company Visionary Restaurant Group (the mailbox is full). I just spoke with another partner this afternoon who confirmed Valient’s report. I will have more on Thursday. Stay tuned.38 Comments »
Nosh Euro Bisto’s executive chef Jon Stevens’ last day at the popular Park Cities and Plano restaurant is Saturday, April 27. He’s leaving Avner Samuel’s kitchen with Samuel’s blessing. Stevens was hired by Samuel in September, 2010 and together they created two locations of Nosh. “We are parting as friends,” Stevens says. Avner and his wife,Celeste, are on “a San Francisco eating trip.” Celeste confimed Steven’s departure via email.
Stevens plans to open his own restaurant, Stock and Barrel, in the fall. Stock and Barrel will feature Americana food. “It’s a work in progress,” says Stevens.
Stevens will fill some of his time by helping his friend, Mico Rodriguez, open his new spot Mesero Miguel. Stevens was working in San Francisco in 2001 when Mico recruited him to work at The Mercury alongside chef Chris Ward.
Mico has taken over the space formerly known as Cuba Libre/Lemon Bar on Henderson and plans to open an “American grill with a Mexican menu.” Huh? “We are cleaning this place up and changing the interior. I’m really inspired by ‘60s Palm Springs,” Mico says. “I’m going to use organic ingredients and serve steak two ways. You can have it American-style or Mexican-style.”
Rodriguez plans to incorporate “a little Mia’s” into the menu. “We will have pork belly tacos and duck tacos,” he says. “But we will also have brisket tacos.”
The 5,000-square foot, two-story restaurant will seat 120 downstairs in the restaurant and the 2,500 square feet upstairs will be a bar with last call at midnight. “My other restaurant (Mr. Mesero) is only five minutes away,” Mico says. “I turn away so many people that this restaurant makes sense for my business.”
The prices at Mesero Miguel will range from $8 to $35. Opening date is July 11.
Like I said yesterday, I was stuck in Vancouver because of American Airlines’ system failure on Tuesday, but at least I’d had a good meal on Japan Airlines before I landed in Canada. It helped tide me over.
During those waiting hours, I glanced down at my passport and determined that I’ve been to Taiwan six times in the last 4.5 years. And if you include those trips to Brazil, Russia, China, Estonia, and Japan in between – that’s a lot of international flights. Heck, that’s a lot of airplane food.
Over the years, I can’t remember all meals I’ve eaten above the clouds, but I do know that American Airlines serves the absolute worst food. They used to give you a free instant noodle cup in the middle of your journey from LAX to Taipei (which was really its only redeemable feature), but they’ve cut that service out in that last few years or so. Those cheapos. This time, on my way to Taiwan, I flew American and received a deep dish pizza an hour or two before arriving in Japan, and it was basically just a circular brick of baked dough with some tomato sauce on top. Lovely.18 Comments »
Last night, Urban Taco took its complaints to Twitter in a most amusing tweet:
Restaurant pet peeve… Tacos served on a metal Z tray…its just not right! I could name a few… How bout yall?
— Urban Taco (@UrbanTaco) February 18, 2013
I’m fairly certain my friend over at Taco Trail has said something similar about the zigzag trays, too. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Jose.) Anyhoo. I get it. There are certain things I can’t stand when I’m dining out. I’m not a huge fan of seeing napkins folded into weird ways. What a waste of time for those po’ napkin folders! They all end up crumpled on your lap, anyways.
I could name a few more, but I know you guys have oodles of more complaints. Share them, will ya? It’s cathartic if we do it together.
My attempt to order from Gina’s resulted in four busy signals and one sad email reply. Gina’s Organic Kitchen is closed. The delivery service for gourmet, healthy food started at the end of November last year, and pretty soon after that, I fell in love with owner Gina Villalobos’ airy raspberry chia mousse. It was heavenly.
Villalobos just emailed to say that business is not going so well. “I am heartbroken to tell you that at the moment our financial partner has decided to go in a different direction and has moved to Europe. So currently we’re exploring our options.”
According to Villalobos’ press woman, this not-so-nice financial partner surprised Villalobos by leaving town and leaving Gina “devastated.”
Any of you folks out there have a rich uncle, sitting on millions, who’d like to partner with Gina’s Organic Kitchen and save her restaurant? Email email@example.com.
Yesterday, we learned that Trader Joe’s will be moving into the Knox area, where Taverna and La Fiorentina (two Lombardi restaurants) are both located. A press release just hit my inbox. Yes, Trader Joe’s is going in, and now Lombardi’s two babies are moving out. Taverna will be moving right next to Toulouse (Knox/Henderson area), adjacent to the Katy Trail, at the end of 2013.
The fate of La Fiorentina, on the other hand, remains unknown. Here’s the latest word: “Beginning in January and continuing through late February, La Fiorentina will be available only for special events and private parties until a new site is selected. Mr. Lombardi is currently reviewing options for La Fiorentina’s new home.”
I just got off the phone with Jason Hice, who was head cheffing at the British Beverage Company when it first opened on November 1. He sent me an email the other day, telling me he moved over to JoJo Eating House & Bar, which is right down the street from the new pub. Apparently, Hice has been a little too friendly with his neighbors.
“I made real good friends with Laurent,” says Hice. “He’s a true old-school chef.”
Hice has a background working in French cuisine, so he and Poupart, the owner of JoJo, hit it off. The ex-BBC chef used to walk across Routh and share his dishes with Poupart. “I think they got a little mad that I was coming over here [JoJo].”
The owners of BBC (there’s about 12 of them, Hice says) told Hice he was let go. (“The sous chef came over and was taking pictures while I was helping Laurent one day, and I think that’s what set them off.”) Hice told Poupart what happened, and the next day, Poupart called him to offer him a new job: the role of chef de cuisine at JoJo. He’s making the same amount he was before, and now he’s much happier.
The new JoJo employee can’t sing enough praises about Poupart. “It was a good move; it was going to happen…It’s a better kitchen and this guy [Poupart] gets the best ingredients possible. The techniques are really cool.”
SideDishers, this makes me wonder: How friendly can you be with your competition? Is sharing dishes with another restaurant a fireable offense?
Apparently the phones are ringing off the hook over at Trinity Groves, the 13-acre restaurant-retail-artist-and-entertainment development at the base of the west end of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge developed by Phil Romano, Stuart Fitts, and Larry “Butch” McGregor. If half of the rumors I’m hearing are true, they won’t have any trouble with occupancy. Some big names are vying for space, several of which have been confirmed, but if I type them I will most likely be floating down the Trinity River in cement clogs by nightfall.
Anyhoo, a solid lead just drifted across my wooden desk. A successful restaurateur and high- profile chef are looking at a second-story space in the “blue” building. They’ve proposed an
Asian-fusion Spanish tapas bar with a sophisticated cocktail program designed by a sophisticated cocktail program designer. Nobody at Trinity Groves will confirm this but I would bet my jon(n) boat that this deal is already in the cosmos. I’ve buried plenty of clues. Can you guess the answer?
Most restaurants run on tight margins. They take a chance every time they place an order for supplies. Today comes word from Jeff Frankel, owner of Mattito’s. The city has basically shut down Routh St. between Cedar Springs and Carlisle, leaving Mattito’s customers wondering how they get to his restaurant. They have place a “road closed” and “no outlet” sign at Carlisle. Yesterday, the first day of the closure, his sales were cut in half. Frankel is headed to City Hall to ask for relief. Meanwhile, Mattito’s is open and the parking lot is easily accessible via Carlisle. Go. Eat. Report.
Once upon a time, when life was good, there were three Love Shacks. Now there is only one. Bad news has hit the streets of Denton: the second remaining Love Shack said its final goodbye to gourmet burgers yesterday. Tim Love’s burger place posted on its Facebook wall:
Dear Love Shack fans,
As of today, October 29th 2012, the Love Shack Denton location is permanently closed. After 18 months of business, Chef Tim Love has decided to redesign and renovate the space which will open as a brand new concept in early 2013.
Please direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your dedicated support and patronage, and we look forward to seeing you at Tim’s new concept!
Last week I heard there was trouble brewing at Acme F & B. My insider, Garganta Profunda de una Vaca, relayed intel: The four owners were in disagreement over the “meat allocation program and front of the house service system.” GPDUV said Acme F&B c0-owners (Team Barcadia), Brooke Humphries and Brianna Larson, bought out co-owners Colleen O’Hare and Jeana Johnson, (Team Good 2 Go Taco, Goodfriend).
I emailed Jeana Johnson last Monday and asked if the buyout scenario was true. She replied, “This is not true.” I pushed, “Are you still owners.” Johnson typed, “Yes we are.” I smelled a lawyer. I went on to bigger and better things.
Last Friday, at 6:56PM, Johnson sent me an update: “Ok NOW we are no longer owners of Acme.” (Attorney aroma again.)
Perhaps it’s as simple as the too-many-cooks syndrome. But since the restaurant opened on June 1, there have been confusing signals. Our First Look, written by Carol Shih, painted this picture:
Each table also has a front wait who brings the food to your table, and a captain who guides you through the menu. He or she is the one who explains to new guests why ACME F&B changes its menu daily, stressing the importance of what the Good To Go and Barcadia women are trying to implement: better treatment of farmers while keeping the quality of food top-notch.
A little less than four months later another picture emerged: Norm Grimm was named executive chef. Grimm’s appointment was somewhat surprising since most of us assumed O’Hare and Johnson, the names most closely associated with the food program, were in the kitchen. We called, we asked, and we were assured this was a natural progression of their business plan.
Mierda happens. It certainly has at Acme F& B. Humphries, Larson, and Grimm, all eyes are on you. Bring us your best game.
(Side note: Humphries and Larson are opening a third Barcadia location in New Orleans.)7 Comments »
Two weeks ago, Avner Samuel closed Snack, the global-small plates spot on Henderson. Samuel and partner Jon Stevens vowed they would reinvent the menu and reopen. I asked Samuel’s wife, Celeste, if there had been any progress on the project. She replied, “No news yet.” Meanwhile, several notable SideDish readers have texted or emailed me photos of their meals at Nosh Euro Bistro, Samuel’s successful restaurant. The pictures and reports were beautiful. Stay put, Avner.
This is a long time historical restaurant and bar in the hot Uptown area of Dallas…Exceptional customer base of monied urban living professionals. Strong upscale condo based….Strong upscale business area.
Fine dining. In business for 15 years, this restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Dallas. With a rich selection of foreign cuisine, a classy atmosphere and ambiance, and a terrific selection of fine wines, this restaurant is a great place for business lunches, after work meals with the family or colleagues, and romantic dinners. Entertainment is provided on weekends and other special occasions making for memorable experiences.
I’m starting to think there are evil spirits in the walls at One Arts Plaza. The spaces that housed the Screen Door and the Commissary have had more turnovers than the Dallas Mavericks in their respective early seasons. The Greek – Pita, Meze, Wine, a restaurant that lost original chef Richard Silva before they opened, has lost another, Taylor Kearney. According to Steven “Big Tex” Doyle, Kearney, who left Boulevardier recently for a new job at The Greek, is now headed to Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse.
Also, Silva has moved across the plaza and is now cheffing at Alberto Lombardi’s Café des Artistes. The Greek owners, Costa and Mary Arabatzis, must be despondent (or difficult to work for). I wonder if Lucy Billingsley, the woman with the vision for One Arts Plaza, ever imagined herself as a restaurateur by default. It’s certainly a seller’s market for chefs right now. New restaurants create new opportunities. Let the whac-a-mole chefs games begin.
UPPITY DATE: Looks like Doyle jumped the gun on Silva. This from Café des Artistes: ” Richard Silva is not the chef for Café des Artistes. I’m not sure where Steven Doyle got that information, but Richard Silva was never coming on as part of the Café des Artistes team. You will be receiving updated chef information for Café des Artistes later today.”12 Comments »
I’m waiting for a phone call from owner Robert Ellington, but my sources say Kathleen’s Sky Diner is closed and the Salvation Army trucks are on the way to make a pick up. Apparently it’s an issue with the landlord.
Robert and Kathleen Ellington opened as Kathleen’s Art Cafe on Lovers Lane in 1988. It was the place to hang. Literally, for local artists. The Ellingtons created one of first spots to feature the works of local artists, all of which were for sale. The bakery next door has always been a favorite source for peppermint chocolate cake, carrot cake, and other baked treats. A few years ago, the restaurant was reconcepted and renamed Kathleen’s Sky Diner.
Hopefully Robert will call me back and I’ll have better news: Like they’ve found a new location.
UPPITY DATE: I’ve talked with some of the staff at Kathleen’s. They are very sad and disappointed. They were proud to work there, loved the food, and will miss their regular customers. Most of them worked there because it was a locally owned, close organization and they are shocked that Robert would just close the doors without notice.
The good news is stone crab season opens today and the shipment for the area locations of Truluck’s are at the airport at this moment. The bad news is they won’t be served in Addison anymore. Last night was the last night for the venerable seafood spot.
Managing Partner Bo Dorton just confirmed Addison is gone. “I opened this spot over 16 years ago,” he said. “It’s a sad day for sure but we are going to absorb the staff at the new building we’re building on McKinney.
The new building will go in behind the current location across from the Hotel Crescent Court. Plans have already been submitted to the city and they expect the larger restaurant to be up and running next summer.
The chef world is amazingly unpredictable. One day, you walk into The Greek – Pita, Meze, Wine (a restaurant that hasn’t even opened) and take photos of chef Richard Silva with owners Costa and Mary Arabatzis, and the next day (literally, the next day), the chef has already resigned.
I posted a sneaky look of The Greek’s interior on Friday with photos of Silva and the Arabatzis. Soon after I posted, Steven Doyle sent me a message saying he had just been there, too, and the Arabatzis were without a chef. Silva was gone.
This put owners Costa and Mary in a hot cooker. They were two/three days from officially opening their new restaurant in One Arts Plaza and missing a chef. Over the weekend, the Arabatzis have hustled and quickly found his replacement. Taylor Kearney, who was most recently seen at Boulevardier and Charlie Palmer, will step into the role of chef de cuisine.
One Arts Plaza spokeswoman Suzi Ellis says, “They will soft open this week and hopefully be open by the weekend. Taylor wanted to make some changes to the menu.”
UPDATE on 10/15: The Greek will open on Friday, October 19.1 Comment »
The last time we showed you food from The Front Room: A Park Cities Diner, Graham Dodds was acting as interim chef. Now Dodds can give Central 214 his full attention again, because The Lumen has announced that Nick Amoriello is filling the executive chef position at The Front Room. Amoriello has been top executive dog at places like Meddlesome Moth, the Loft at NYLO Plano, and Potager, so he brings with him a plate full of experience. New menus for the modern American restaurant should be coming out soon for the fall.
Last February, I took my first tour of Trinity Groves, the 13-acre restaurant-retail-artist-and-entertainment development at the base of the west end of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Developers Phil Romano, Stuart Fitts, and Larry “Butch” McGregor expect Trinity Groves to be a hotbed for entrepreneurial thinking. They compare the multi-use development filled with restaurants, shops, and potential living spaces to be what Silicon Valley is to high tech or what Ghirardelli Square is to San Francisco. They’ve cleared out the old truck terminal building (green building pictured above) and some surrounding spaces and are attracting some local culinary talent to participate in their Restaurant Concept Incubator program. Their vision is to house 30 concepts from this program plus restaurants from individual investors.
Romano has commissioned a pilot for The Restaurant Maker, a reality TV show for budding restaurateurs not unlike the process Shark Tank participants go through. I watched some of 45-minute promotional video and it’s well done. There are three episodes in the can. Each show features an potential talent going through the grueling process of getting a shot at owning their own restaurant. Hmm, this idea sounds a bit too familiar: Mark Cuban, I gave you the chance to make it big with me.
Jump for exciting construction site photos and insidery information about Trinity Groves.1 Comment »