This trip is strange. After messing around in mountainous Breckenridge, Colorado—not skiing, but snowshoeing, camping and dropping bobbers in lakes—chef Kevin Ascolese is back in flattened Dallas. Ascolese, you'll recall, etched his résumé in some of Dallas' finest stabs at fine Italian—Sfuzzi, Mi Piaci, Salve! Ristorante and Ferré. Now he'll scratch another Italian entry at Patrizio. "I was just kind of purging Dallas out of me," he says. "But I need to get back into my groove." Following an abrupt departure from Dallas, Ascolese headed to Breckenridge, where he worked at Empire Burger—opened last Memorial Day—slinging burgers, shredding lettuce heads and basically running the whole operation without any equity stake. So Ascolese headed back to Dallas, chatted it up with Patrizio owner Ed Bailey and discovered the two meshed. Now as corporate chef he'll upgrade the menus for Patrizio Highland Park Village, Patrizio Plano and the new Patrizio going up in Highland Village later this year. Like Ascolese, Bailey had his way with burgers too, only bigger ones. The McDonald's franchisee owns some 61 units—some of them the most expensive ever built—in North Texas that reportedly gross more than $100 million annually. Bailey bought Patrizio's from Café Pacific owner Jack Knox last year. He then pulled in former Mansion on Turtle Creek maître d' Enam Chowdhury and former Beau Nash maître d' Theo Koutsogeorgas before installing Ascolese.
Tristan Simon sold his successful nightclub, Candle Room, last week to Candle Room general manager Tommy "D" Dondlinger (formerly of the allegedly terminal Hard Rock Cafe) and bar manager Shawn Egerton. Simon did not disclose a price. "I just made the decision to get out of the nightclub business," says Simon, who closed his upscale nightclub, Sense, late last summer because of disappointing financial performance. But wasn't Candle Room a cash cow? "The company's grown, and we have a number of cash cows now," he assures. "We're basically choosing to focus on our core business, which is the restaurant business." To that end, Simon's firm Consilient Restaurants (named for a book by famed Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson) is expanding Fireside Pies to Grapevine and, if real estate can be found, the Park Cities after the Shops at Legacy edition opened late last year. He's also opening The Porch next month, after it slipped a year behind schedule, and sketching out a new restaurant concept plus lining up ducks for another potential project—possibly outside Texas.