Dallas millionaire and Porsche/Audi/VW dealer Scott Ginsburg concedes that his biggest mistake with his Voltaire and Bamboo Bamboo restaurant adventures was in thinking his chefs could also grip operations. "From a pure enterprise point of view, the first thing you need to do is choose a manager, and I failed to do that twice," he admits. So that's why when Cuba Libre/Sense founder Tristan Simon proposed a deal to operate (a flat percentage plus a cut of sales, according to Simon) Ginsburg's foundering Asian restaurant Bamboo Bamboo (morphed from his much buzzed about Voltaire), he jumped at the chance. Simon says he and his Consilient Restaurants team, led by operations VP Greg Kalina and chef Nick Badovinus, descended on the restaurant like the 101st Airborne one morning last week. But instead of neutralizing nasty combatants in mountainous crags, Consilient flooded the kitchen to revamp Bamboo's menu and mobilized to rekindle sex appeal in the lounge (no doubt with shoulder-launched missiles). Ginsburg, who became the largest investor in Consilient Restaurants as part of the deal, says there is a palpable ambience shift in Bamboo solely because of this newly installed management resolve. For Simon, the timing couldn't be sweeter: Many restaurateurs are lamenting that business is as bad or worse than during the post-9/11 pall and are bracing for a rash of closings. (The recent shuttering of the Riviera after nearly two decades is perhaps the first domino.) Meanwhile, deposed Bamboo chef and manager Joseph Gutierriz is pursuing a deal to open a small restaurant and attached grocery (stocking all of the restaurant's menu ingredients) in the defunct Gold Bar space downtown.
A spokeswoman at Carlson Restaurants Worldwide confirms that a cluster of Carlson's former Emerging Brands restaurants--the Timpano Italian Chophouse units in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, the Samba restaurants in Tampa, Orlando and Dallas and Bossa in Houston--has been sold to the Florida investment group Renaissance Restaurants operating under the name E-Brands Acquisition Inc. The group is in talks with Carlson on the acquisition of Star Canyon and Taqueria Cañonita in Las Vegas. Carlson is also in the process of sewing up deals for the Timpano chophouse in Frisco and Fishbowl and Star Canyon in Dallas...The McKinney Avenue space that was once Geode has been taken over by Simon Molina and Eddie Ortega, former owners of the defunct Lime Bar on Cedar Springs. Dubbed Salsa Bar & Grill, the Tex-Mex restaurant and bar will double as a dance club with late-night food service.