Meet Marvin. He is my undercover snitch. Marvin knows a lot about the Dallas restaurant business. He’s socially awkward and therefore people feel comfortable feeding him information. They trust him with their secrets. Marvin has two qualities I love: he has a big mouth and my phone number. Marvin, who resembles a Black-footed Albatross, called this morning. He is convinced the space formerly known as Ocho will become a second location of Mi Piaci.
Could be. Brian Black, one of the principles in The Hatch Partners Team that opened Ocho, is the owner of Mi Piaci. Ocho closed abruptly on June 3 and put up a note that they were closed for renovation. I’ve left messages for Black and Ocho chef Joel Harloff but they aren’t returning my requests. So I can only guess Ocho’s managing partner Eric DiStefano is back in Santa Fe. Sounds like a good plan to me.9 Comments »
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?
The M Crowd has announced an agreement with The Chevy Chase Land Company to open a Mi Cocina restaurant at The Collection at Chevy Chase, a luxury shopping destination located just ten minutes from downtown Washington, D.C. I’m sure former President George W. Bush wonders why his good buddy Ray Washburne, founder and part owner of Mi Cocina and Highland Park Village, waited to move Dallas Tex-Mex to D.C. until he was out of office. Perhaps Washburne is planning to spend more time in the nation’s capitol and I don’t mean making tacos. Could happen. He’s the kind of guy politicians like to court over strong margaritas. Today MCrowd owns 21 restaurants in Texas, Oklahoma, and Atlanta. Tomorrow, the world?
[Fun Fact from co-worker: "As someone who lived not far from The Collection at Chevy Chase, it would probably take at least 25 minutes to get to downtown DC from there."]1 Comment »
I’ve cruised past the construction site of John Tesar’s new restaurant, Spoon in Preston Center, several times this month and noticed zero activity. The permits were not on the windows and there was no construction taking place. Yesterday I checked Tesar’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, then texted and called him, and nothing. Last night I spoke with his rep, Bev Garvin. She says all is well and construction is “back underway.” They are preparing to knock down the front of the space and, after that, “expect a six-to-eight week turnaround.”
I asked her Tesar’s whereabouts and she giggled a bit. “I can’t tell you,” she said. “I only get to talk to him when they allow him access to phones or when they let him have phones.”
After I lifted my jaw off my desk, I asked, “Well, should I check the roster at Betty Ford Clinic or San Quentin?” She giggled again, nervously. “No, it’s all good I can’t tell you. If you poke around you might find out more.” She did say he would be back in Dallas on July 31.
I don’t feel like poking, so let’s play “Where’s John Tesar?” Prize worth $100 to the winner. (Some people, and you know who you are, are not eligible to play.)
I am going out on a long white oak limb here: Meditating in India.
Okay, your turn, GO!34 Comments »
Both Christophers, Zielke and Jeffers, of Bolsa Mercado confirm the shop opening up in Arlington has nothing to do with Bolsa Mercado in Bishop Arts. So, there you have it. Call anyway and ask them if it is true: 214-367-9367.
Rumor has it Hopdoddy Burger Bar from Austin just signed a lease in Preston Center for part of the 24-Hour Fitness space. Roll the buzzwords: all-natural, fresh, scratch, and crafted. The name was created to “express the perfect union of burgers and beer: handcrafted beer (hop) + (doddy), the nickname given to the native cow in Aberdeen, Scotland.” How long before every neighborhood in town has their own gourmet burger bar? Not a bad trend. BTW, sweet potato tots are trending. I ate a whole order last night at Peggy Sue BBQ.12 Comments »
Awaiting official confirmation, but my inside source says The Naughty Chef, Blythe Beck, is leaving Central 214 to do some sort of naughty themed bus tour.
UPITTY DATE: Beck is still in the kitchen until the end of September.
UPITTY UPDATE: ” Wow! You work fast lady!! Yes I have resigned from Central 214,” Beck said. “I am leaving to go work on a personal project. I will be at Central 214 until September 30th. I am still doing my cooking class!”7 Comments »
People are saying that Fitzhugh is the new Henderson. I’m not really sure if I buy that yet, but I am willing to admit that Ole Fitz is definitely moving in the right direction. Maybe you’ve heard about some of the melodrama surrounding the fairly recent goings on at RedFork. Circulating rumors focused on the early loss of two of the three founding chefs (Matt Balke, formerly of York Street, and Jeff Harris, formerly of Craft), a bit of hot dish which left many questioning if this new Dallas hotspot was even worth a try. With chef Ryan Carbery at it’s helm, RedFork was determined to press on.
The question remains: can the food still hold its own? Is this place still worthy of the early buzz once surrounding RedFork’s opening? The answer, my friends, is a resounding yes.
Last Friday, Brownstone’s Casey Thompson tweeted:
Putting an offer in on a space in Napa and a house all at the same time!
Does this mean that this former Top Chef contender from Fort Worth is permanently leaving the prairie for the vine-covered hillsides of Northern California? That she won’t be guest-mixing margaritas behind the Brownstone bar for much longer? Granted, the house she put an offer in on could be here in town, but it’s vague enough to have us guessing.
We’ve got calls out. Stay tuned for updates!
I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend: Rosa Mexicano is coming to town. I know talk is cheap but I know the neighborhood and I think the story is good. Take it on the run, baby: Rosa Mexicano, the small Midtown (Manhattan) restaurant that opened in 1984 is moving into the space now occupied by Palomino at the Crescent Court. Rosa was New York’s first successful “authentic Mexican cooking” spot. Now it’s a burgeoning chain with 10 locations: three in NYC, one in New Jersey, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, D.C., Maryland, and South Beach. (Apologies to REO Speedwagon)
UPITTY DATE: Here’s the short answer to the question: Rosa Mexicano is NOT moving into the Palomino space. Turns out my both of my sources were wrong. (Today.) The Palomino space “isn’t technically available” said a person close to the business who swore he/she would slash my tires if I identified him/her. “However, we are looking at many different wonderful restaurants.” If you have a degree in reading between the lines, advance to go and collect $200. Oh, and to my friend who heard it from a friend: thanks for the lie, a whisper, and a knife in my back.11 Comments »
I spent the whole weekend in front of my computer. That doesn’t mean I was working the whole time—I should have been—but a lot of the time I performed many other important tasks such as checking updates on TMZ, Facebook, and “the fightin’ SideDish followers” on Twitter.
Anywhoo, two names kept popping up in my Twitter @box: @chefpyles (as in Stephan) and @beyondthekit (chef David Gilbert. Remember him!). They were in Santa Fe together and eating all over town. Now, I wasn’t born yesterday, I was born 21,389 days ago, so I have a little experience in predicting what the mischievous behavior of these two chefs means. I’m feeling bold enough to predict Pyles has a new restaurant in the works and he’s grooming David Gilbert to be his chef. Perhaps the Southwestern will rise again! But that’s just me. I could be wrong. It’s happened.4 Comments »
Word on the street is that the Deep Ellum/Commerce St. location of Cowboy Chow is being taken over by D’s Best Breakfast favorite, Buzzbrews. In fact, this weekend is the Chow’s last one in that location. Look for Buzzbrews to start slinging their hash to downtown brunchers, the 2 am Adair’s crowd, and hungover hipsters sometime in July.
Good morning, SideDish Nation. I’d like to begin this fine day with a rumor. True or false? Sharon Hage is going to be the new chef at the Place at Perry’s which has plans to move into new digs across the street. I’ll be back in a minute with the answer. (If you get bored, count how many times I used “at” in this post.)
UPPITY DATE: “False-ish,” Hage said. She has been asked to “explore a menu refresh.” The gig is only for a week.
NBC’s Greg Janda sent me a link to Annie Potzasznik’s story on the official announcement: The Green Room is closed. The only question remaining is: Am I still a rumor monger?
From Green Room’s Facebook page on Jan 12:
3 Comments »
A well-informed, reliable Oak Cliff-dwelling person informed me that chef Kelly Hightower walked into the restaurant and punched one of his partners (“the dude who usually works the door”) around 7:30 pm on Friday night. “The guy’s face was all bloody,” says my secret source. “And the dining room was packed.” Talk of the incident is the buzz of conversation all over the OC. I contacted Hightower and he replied, “Nova has no comment at this time.”20 Comments »
Last week I received a copy of confidential memo sent from a prominent restaurant CEO to a local restaurateur. The thrust of the message? “Please consider Shawn Horne if you need a professional upscale restaurant leader. Shawn has worked with many of the most talented people in the industry and brings a inspiring record or achievement.”
Does this mean the end of Horne & Dekker? Or just the Horne part of Horne & Dekker? I e-mailed Shawn and asked him what was happening. He says:
Yes, I am looking to consult on something, or even create a position with a firm that opens, trains, and manages new restaurants. I am still involved with Horne and Dekker. But the challenge of operating a dinner only with a brunch service restaurant fades. We are very happy with the restaurant and it is doing very well. I am looking for a new challenge. I love opening new concepts and have been very successful in this field.
I didn’t report this last week because I felt it was non news. However, several other people have told me they’ve seen the memo and word on the street is that Horne is ready to move on. So, in a rare move of anti-rumormonger-itis, I present Shawn’s official declaration.
As the economy continues to kill restaurants, it also fuels the fires beneath the ever-burning rumor mill. One reason why so many stories are flying all over town is simple economics–as restaurants close, the supply of available restaurant real estate increases. Couple that with curious restaurateurs looking for a bargain or just checking out possibilities, and sparks fly.
While some entrepreneurs are seriously searching for deals, others may just be kicking grease traps and fantasizing. (Restaurant real estate porn if you will.) No matter, once anyone has poked around a few locations, the phone and e-mail lines light up like a modern day version of this.
Late yesterday, a juicy tale flowed my way. Word on the street: Bob Sambol,founder of Bob’s Steak and Chop House on Lemmon, was leaving to reconcept Hully & Mo at the Quadrangle. My source said the deal was “so done” they ‘d already picked a new name: Legends. Made sense to me—real estate mogul and owner of Hully & Mo, Tim Headington, is a Bob’s customer and friend of Sambol’s as is Mike “Mo” Modano.
I called Bob Sambol. “Hey, tell me about Legends,” I said right off the bat (at the drop of the puck). “Huh? What are you taking about?” said Sambol. “You know, your new restaurant. You’re taking over Hully & Mo and changing the name to Legends,” I said.
“I’m still here at Bob’s and business is really good,” said Sambol.”We’ve made a lot of changes and things are going really well. Our new wine guy, Ken Kuczwaj, is doing some great stuff. The people here at Bob’s have been great to me.”
Hmm. He certainly went into auto-mode awfully quick. I went for the neutral zone trap.”So, you have no idea what I’m talking about, ” I said. ”Well, yeah, I talked to them [Headington],” said Sambol. “They need some help. I’ve looked around. I’ve looked at Silver Fox [Centrum]. That place is immaculate. You could reopen it in 10 days. But my next restaurant is not going to be a steak place, it’s going to be a real New York Italian restaurant. I’m only looking now because I am curious and people call me every day with possibilities.”
Perhaps Headington and Mo (donde esta Hully in all of this?) will change the Hully & Mo concept without Sambol. After all, Modano seems to be headed to Detroit to play and Headington & Hully isn’t sexy. (Note to Mr. Headington, please don’t call it Legends. It doesn’t make me hungry or thirsty. It makes me think of strippers. However, “Modano’s” entices me to be all three.)
Anywhoo, I did “learn” one thing from rooting around yesterday: former Houston-turned-Dallas-turned Houston restaurateur Joey Vallone “has signed” a lease on the space formerly known as The Club in the Centrum. Remember Joey’s? It used to be in the space now occupied by Al Biernat’s. Joey is quite a character. Which reminds me, where in the hell is Matthew Antonovich? He never opened his restaurant in Louisville.
Stay tuned for another episode of As the Restaurants Turn.7 Comments »
The French Room at the Hotel Adolphus has had its ups and downs over the years. During chef William Koval’s 12-year reign in the kitchen, the food served in the gorgeous rococo dining room was superb. He guided the iconic eatery at the Hotel Adolphus back into the national spotlight. He left in 2005. And while the French Room is still hanging on, there is talk under the tables that if the economy doesn’t rebound faster than Moses Malone, the space will undergo a big change. Money talks and rococo walks.
Anywhoo, back to Koval. He headed to Seattle in 2005 but was talked back to Dallas by Lucian LaBarba, president of FreshPoint Dallas. In fact LaBarba, a member of Lakewood Country Club, persuaded Koval to head up the club’s kitchen. Golf writer Curt Sampson met Koval and wrote a nice story on him. Read it here.3 Comments »
Nobody will go on the record, but a big birdy in the business says that long-time Arthur’s Prime Steaks owner, Mohsen Heidari, is “moving a concept in across from the Capital Grille on Maple.” Old Montaigne Club space? Not sure. Nobody’s talking.2 Comments »