Luqa restaurant along with Petrus Lounge and Dallas Roof Gardens will open downtown on Main Street next Tuesday after a string of missed opening dates spanning the last year and a half. The opening spur? The nearly $6 million, 400-seat complex risked losing its eligibility for a tax subsidy if it didn't open by November 15, according to former III Forks cellar master Kyle Kepner, who is leading the project on behalf of assorted silent investors. Luqa's chef is Dallas native David Gilbert, who once cooked at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas as well as the hoary Trader Vic's in the Beverly Hilton. Grant Morgan, formerly of Le Cirque in Las Vegas, is executive sous chef. Former Sense sommelier Philip Natale will be the project's sommelier/assistant general manager after he wraps up his Consilient Restaurants stint commanding the bar at Hibiscus this week. So what makes Kepner think a $6 million, 400-seat restaurant has a prayer amongst the corpses of downtown trailblazers such as Jeroboam and Metropolitan? "Pioneers get shot," Kepner assures. "Settlers get rich."
Wouldn't it be campy if Park Cities Prime served wet-aged consolidation loans? But alas: "It's another steak house," says Park Cities Prime general manager Lewis McHenry. "It's more or less classified as a boutique steak house. We kind of want to take the finest of the finest." McHenry, former wine director of Stephan Pyles restaurant and one-time owner of Rosebud Wine Bistro and Jennivine, has pulled in former III Forks chef Lee Miller and one-time Baby Routh general manager Ray Lisak to launch PPP on behalf of Popolos owner Steve Hammond. Park Cities will take shape in the former Jenny Ho's Szechwan Pavilion space in Preston Center sometime in December... George Howald has decamped from Dallas Central Market after four years as wine and beer manager. "I think I had accomplished what I could accomplish there," he says. This was taking the Dallas CM from nothing to the highest-grossing single location wine/beer retailer in the city despite Central Market's relatively high wine prices. "Price sensitivity was not our strongest suit," he admits. Now? Howald has taken a post as Dallas sales manager for San Antonio-based Serendipity Wine Imports, which has a new Dallas warehouse just down the street from the new Baby Dolls garment-removal facility... Harry Neinast, former Del Frisco's general manager, is the new GM of Trece... Correction: Last week we reported on the new upscale Sigel's stores under development in Dallas and in the Shops at Legacy in Plano referring to both as "Sigel's Elite." The wine and rare spirits shop in Dallas will be called Sigel's Elite, while the wine-only shop in Plano will be called Vin Classic Wines. Sorry about that.