Crazy Eddie

The Web site claims his knack for choosing an appropriate dinner wine was one of his responsibilities as "a board member for a worldwide corporation." And we wonder why the Enron and Tyco debacles snuck under the board of directors' schnozzles. The site goes on to explain that Eddie Merlot's founder Bill Humphries was once asked by a fellow worldwide corporation board member named Ed to select a wine for dinner. The drink happened to be a merlot and it tickled Ed's buds enormously. Consequently Ed instructed Bill from that point forward to always order the merlot, and Bill replied that from that point forward Ed would be known as Eddie Merlot. If there's a prime aged beef and seafood restaurant that's had a daffier birth, we haven't heard it. And to secure a prolific lineage, Humphries, a sub-franchiser of some 250 Subway units, is carving a page from estrogen-friendly Fleming's Prime Steak House & Wine Bar, striving to make Eddie Merlot's a lady tickler. The restaurant is consciously designed to appeal to women and younger folks by eschewing the dark clubby beef-den décor favored by businessmen. This is accomplished by injecting lots of light, bright colors, diminutive steak cuts, salads and a vast selection of wines by the glass. Launched in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Eddie Merlot's is under construction in Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Frisco off of Highway 121. (The latter should open sometime over the next few weeks.) Despite the name and the plea to always order the stuff, Eddie Merlot's offers just 11 merlots on its 60-plus by-the-glass wine list. Gads, it even has more chardonnay than Eddie grog.

Ken Rothman, who has operated the Uptown Bar & Grill for some eight years, has taken over the Lulu's Bait Shack space on McKinney Avenue, which was abandoned by the small Atlanta-based seafood chain in 1999 after a fracas with the city over parking. Rothman plans to open Pueblo Arriba there sometime in July. "Casual Tex-Mex. Full bar," he says pointedly. "We'll compete with Primo's basically." But while LuLu's absorbed the whole building on this McKinney footprint, Rothman will consume just the first floor as well as the deck and patio. His partner Bryan Crelly, who crafted Pueblo Arriba's menu, will operate the restaurant. Rothman also created Fat Ted's in Deep Ellum, which he sold some 18 months ago...Hotel ZaZa slipped into Conde Nast Traveler's "Hot List" issue this month, a publication that extols the trendiest new hotels and restaurants around the world. Dallas' boutique respite was the only Southwestern hotel to score under the "urban" category.


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