Bistral Cursed

Bistral Neighborhood Bistro & Bakery will shut down at the end of August, if it isn't sold. If this doesn't prove that McKinney Avenue is in the grips of a gustatory curse, then nothing will. Just this year, I count Mangia e Bevi, O'Dowd's Little Dublin and now Bistral as McKinney casualties. And the same supernatural force has to be driving the person who keeps putting up hand-scrawled signs in front of deceased restaurants urging folks to visit Le Paris Bistrot, because it's still open. Then again maybe this just proves that everything happens in threes. Anyway, operated by Wynnwood Hospitality, a division of Mary Kay, Bistral opened on McKinney Avenue in May 1999 in the corner space that was once home to the Allen Street Bar and Grill. The big question is, What is David Holben going to do? "I'm going to take the next 30 days and look at all of my options and talk to a lot of people I know in the business and see what David Holben is going to do next," says the former Riviera chef who was appointed Wynnwood's corporate executive chef and director of culinary operations in the summer of 1999. Yet maybe this closure isn't the result of a supernatural curse. After all, there's been corporate sifting at Mary Kay, which will see the scuttling of Richmont Corp., an investment company funded by the cosmetics firm. One of the pieces in the Richmont portfolio was Wynnwood, the caterer that also operates Seventeen Seventeen restaurant and the Atrium Café in the Dallas Museum of Art. "With Bistral, it's a shame," says Holben, who adds the restaurant had just turned the corner and was building business. "A lot of people put a lot of heart and soul into it...and [it] turned into a nice bistro in uptown. But business is business."

Former Seventeen Seventeen chef George Brown is getting antsy. He says George Catering, the Deep Ellum company he operates with his wife, Katie, is going great guns. He operates it by day in the Gypsy Tea Room, but he wants a restaurant, or more specifically, two. So he's been rushing around town hunting sites when he's not preparing precious grub for cultured party animals. Brown says he's looking for a small venue of 60-80 seats, preferably in an old house. In addition to that, he wants to do a 1,000-square-foot taqueria, mostly for takeout. No name for that ambition yet, but the more upscale spot will be called "George." "Everyone said why don't you call it Katie? But she's all right with that," he says.


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