Strike Two

What's in a name?

Heck, it's a regular alias pile. That downtown hotel on Main Street formerly known as Joule Urban Resort has shed yet another "otherwise known as." It was to be called Hotel Elan. No more. "It's not going to be that," says Caroline Lerner Perel of Juno Development, the luxury hospitality real estate developer that is bringing the hotel to fruition. "There's a Chateau Elan in Atlanta, and we were going to get fought on it." Thus the current working name for the 130-room, Adam D. Tihany-designed resort with a Charlie Palmer restaurant and a pool that cantilevers 8 feet over Main Street is: The Headington, named for Tim Headington of Headington Oil Co. LP, the hotel's backer. But that may change too. Perel says they're running another name through the trademark gantlet, which they hope will survive before that Charlie Palmer restaurant opens in November.

Bill Hyde, former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO and partner in the Zea WoodFire Grill franchise in Plano, confirms that he has joined chef Kent Rathbun's restaurant group (Abacus and three incarnations of Jasper's in Plano, Austin and The Woodlands) as an equity partner. Rathbun's restaurant group was rattled a year ago August after the death of Dallas visionary and long-time Rathbun backer Robert Hoffman...Chef Chris Ward of Mercury Grill and his M Crowd partners are still hashing out negotiating points with Rosewood Property Co. in hopes to launch an upscale Ward restaurant in the 19-story Rosewood Court development at Cedar Springs and Pearl. You might think this Ward namesake is a pent-up chef's dream. You might be wrong. "We're still money apart," Ward admits. "We'd love to do it, but I don't know if I want the debt. There's so much stuff going on downtown that's not really working well either." A chef worried about debt? The sub-prime poison shows its ripples. Chris Ward's restaurant would go head to head with power spots like Fearing's and Stephan Pyles. Yet if it doesn't come through, Ward has fallbacks. He's working on a hospitality venture with the Indy Racing League to bring haute tailgating to the IRL's team owners and sponsors. It would be a gear in an overall racing project driven by former Southern Methodist University offensive lineman and NASCAR Busch Series team owner W. Hulsey Smith, a move about which the young finance/energy industry entrepreneur is tight-lipped. "We're in very sensitive negotiations right now," Smith says. "But what we are doing will change the fan base of racing." Back in May, Smith flew Ward to Charlotte, North Carolina, on his Gulfstream IV to a Busch Series race where Ward cooked prime steaks for assembled racing honchos. "His cooking continually knocks my hat into the crick," says Smith.

 
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