Dead and Kicking
McKinney Avenue isn't dead anymore; or even undead. Here's proof: There's a mini-scramble under way. This fall, Uptown Bar & Grill, which has been sitting off McKinney on Fairmount Street for roughly 10 years, is slipping into Severine's Bar, the spot Jean-Michel Sakouhi opened next to his defunct Paris Bistrot before it became his defunct Savory 12 before it was his defunct Figaro Cafe. At about the same time, Mitch Kaufman will shoehorn his Urbano Paninoteca, also on Fairmount, into the Paris Bistrot/Figaro space. What of Severine's? Sakouhi, who says the shuffle is steeped in lease and landlord rancor, is shutting it down with hopes of recasting Severine's in Southlake.
After years of concerted tweaking, Ron Corcoran has shoved a fork in his decade-old Sipango. "Sipango's closed. We're done," he snaps. The Travis Street space won't collect many cobwebs, though. Corcoran plans to reincarnate sometime in December, though not with Aurora chef Avner Samuel, whom Corcoran courted for months only to discover Samuel's devotion to Aurora is all-consuming. So he's trolling for another high-profile chef for his unnamed project with a Mediterranean look and feel. "No cream or butter," he insists. But there will be dough. "The next 10 years are about making money." What were the previous 10 about?...Also this: Frankie Carabetta (Vinny's Pizza, Manhattan Bar, Knox Street Pub & Grill) is planning an upscale bar project on McKinney Avenue somewhere near the Hard Rock Café. Not only that, he's opening a bar and grill near the Studio Movie Grill in North Dallas, an after-hours bar for restaurant industry workers--a sort of Primo's North...It's nice to know that after a couple of decades, Trader Vic's will emerge from a Deepfreeze and its brush with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the Transcendental Meditation movement group that bought the old Hilton Inn on Mockingbird Lane where Trader Vic's once lived) and reopen in June 2006. Vic's will be a $3 million addition to the Hotel Palomar, a $90 million lifestyle hotel, high-rise luxury condo nest and chic shopping trough managed by San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Reanimating Trader Vic's is Jim Sibert, who once owned Bubble Room, State Bar and XPO Lounge. He now operates Double Wide. Sibert bought a Trader Vic's franchise after being smitten by its steady drip of sweet Polynesian kitsch during a private party held in its idle corpse a few years back. "Everything is still intact," he says. "They pretty much closed the doors and sealed it up." Who cares? Sibert says seniors hungering for nostalgia and the young and fickle yearning to have their retro-hip receptors triggered. Plus tourists.
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