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 »
Carol beat me to the confirmation but I’d already written this post so here goes.
I’ve had my suspicions about Valentine’s actual role in the kitchen at FT33 since it opened. I’ve been to the restaurant five times and have never witnessed him performing the duties of a pastry chef. Valentine was either expediting or assisting head honcho Matt McCallister. My gut reaction has always been Valentine was marking time at FT33 while he appeared on Top Chef. His weekly appearance on national TV translated into good publicity for a new restaurant. I have written before: I find it fascinating that McCallister has gained much of his fame through social media. Matt and Iris McCallister are smart marketers and behind their good looks and talent is a serious dedication to running a business.
In late February, McCallister released Ryan Tedder, general manager and sommelier, from his duties. Word on the street is that the McCallisters wanted a more “corporate manager” and Tedder was too much of a free spirit. (That is probably why I loved the wine list he put together.) Last week, McCallister replaced opening chef de cuisine Brady Williams with Bradford Hodgkins, his old buddy at Stephan Pyles.
All new restaurants go through tweaking of personnel. Some readers think the kitchen is falling apart but I don’t agree. FT33 was a hit before they opened the doors and they are achieving national recognition before they are six months old. I’m sure McCallister and crew have had to make some tough decisions. They are hell-bent on glory and I have a feeling McCallister will need to be out of the kitchen in the next few months. Like June 14-16.
For the record: I’ve contacted McCallister, Valentine, and Hodgkins for comment.
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?
Ed Bailey and company purchased the Uptown Bar & Grill about six months ago. According to Ken “Kesey” Kuczwaj, Vice President Brand Development of ECB Enterprises, Uptown Bar and Grill will close around November 1 and will reopen as a yet-unnamed “man-versus-food type sandwich shop.” The restaurant will have “cool cocktails” and “the greatest New York Sicilian pizza-by-the-slice you ever tasted.” More on that later.
Kuczwaj’s job is to lead Ed Bailey out of the cuckoo’s nest of grandiose steakhouses and into more manageable restaurant concepts. Like Patrizio. Today I caught up with Ken as he toured the site of the soon-to-open Patrizio Osteria in Southlake.
An article on Eater Dallas says that Bailey’s in Fairview is closed, but I just called the restaurant two seconds ago and I can assure everyone that it is very, very open today, just like it normally is. Eater editor Whitney Filloon reported today:
Word on the street is that Bailey’s Prime Plus in Fairview closed over the weekend. Calls to the steakhouse reach a recording stating that they were closed for Labor Day on Monday but would reopen yesterday at 4 p.m. (That didn’t happen.)
The voice on the other end of the Bailey’s line, Sarah, says that Bailey’s did reopen yesterday and doesn’t have a clue why people would say the restaurant is closed when it isn’t. Hm. I sniff a conspiracy.
A little birdy is saying that Trader Joe’s might be the reason why Turtletique, a posh fashion boutique on West Lovers Lane, is closing this month. Owner Barbara Kille says, “We are closing September 15 to the public as the result of the landlord wanting our space.” When I asked if she knew if Trader Joe’s would be moving in, Kille told me, “Your guess is as good as mine, but that’s the most prevalent rumor.”7 Comments »
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 »
So says a customer who was there last night. According to said customer: “The show is over. Sunday was the last service. The space is leased to a local restaurateur.” Calling chef David McMillan.
Also heard Rhost on Greenville has been sold to The Londoner Pub.
UPPITY DATE: Incoming intel. Ziziki’s is going into Commissary space.
The developers of Klyde Warren Park (The Park) have been busy building the 5-acre green space that covers Woodall Rogers Freeway. The area will connect the Arts District and downtown with Uptown. The $110 million dollar attraction will feature fountains, a botanical garden, a performance stage, a children’s garden, real trees and grasses, and a dog park. I’ve had my nose to the ground since they started trying to dig up the scoop on the restaurants that will be granted rights to serve at, on, or around The Park.
I’ve heard rumors (many) the main restaurant will be operated by Wolfgang Puck’s catering operation which already has a stranglehold on most of the Art’s District concessions. This morning I got confirmation on a new chef-driven restaurant that will open at 2000 McKinney. It’s called Lark (on the Park). The owner, as it should be, is long-(long)-time-Dallasite-veteran-restaurateur-and-reformed-party boy, Shannon Wynne. He of the Moth, Flying Fish, Flying Saucer and other flying related concepts.
“Plans today suggest Chef Nick Amoriello will be going over there from the Moth,” Wynne says. “We will be interviewing additional chefs for Lark where we plan to present non-cute food.” What does he mean by non-cute food? “No mac and cheese or mamas fried chicken. Just good meals at a fair price.” When I asked him to expand his thoughts a little he said: “The beer program at the Moth will not be traveling to Lark as there is room for only one deluxe gastro pub in Dallas, but Lark promises more wines and mixed drinks. We are slated to open in December or early January.” Fearing he’d hang up on me, I pressed on. What about the interior? (Wynne designs his own spaces) Just before the line went dead he said, “The interior is a secret. Dallas illustrators will be heavily featured.”
That’s all I got. But I have to say it’s always good news when a unique Dallas project adds other unique Dallas project to the mix. Or The Park in this case.
UPPITY DATE: My initial post flushed an elusive ivory-billed woodpecker from the bushes. It calls: “Wolfgang Puck was a smoke screen. John Muse of Hicks and Muse fame will be opening a restaurant there.”11 Comments »