Back in November we revealed that Tony's Wine Warehouse & Restaurant was essentially a sucker farm (see "Sour Grapes," November 10, 2005), where customers were consistently snookered into buying over-the-hill wines at over-the-top prices via donated wine classes and tastings. Time will tell who sucks now. Tony's owner Michel Monzain unloaded his warehouse and "gourmet" restaurant last month to Deep Ellum nightclubber Paul DiBiase (Club Indigo). "He was a man of his time, which is the nicest thing you can say about him," says DiBiase of Monzain. "Of course we slashed the prices about 90 percent across the board because they were kind of high on a lot of wines. We cleared out a lot of the old bad wines." And how. DiBiase says he dumped much of the inventory (700 cases) at a buck a case, pawning it off as cooking wine. He sold the barely drinkable chucks at two bucks a bottle and trashed much of the rest. "We had over 40,000 cases in here," he says. DiBiase plans to recast the classes and tastings, install a wine-tasting bar and completely revamp the restaurant under the tutelage of Gwen Watel, who co-founded Watel's in 1987. How'd DiBiase wander into the Tony hole? He answered an ad Monzain was running for a salesperson and decided he'd rather buy than shill. Meanwhile, a couple of former Tony's employees led by instructor James Winkler have moved up north, birthing Premier Wines of Plano at the corner of Parker and Preston roads. And Premier seems to have pulled at least one page from the Tony's playbook. Posted on eBay May 29 is a wine-tasting class for 35 featuring "Classic Wines From Europe" valued at $1,350. For a June 25 Chris Ward dinner at Mercury Grill benefiting the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas, Premier donated a group wine tasting valued $1,000.
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After 20-plus years, Gershwin's is gone. Yet it may soon be resurrected. Ronnie Crayton, formerly of Bay Leaf and Crayton's Restaurant & Bar, says he has gathered a couple of money-bagged investors and plans to buy Gershwin's. Most recently owned by Garland physician Christy Schade, Gershwin's was twisting and gasping over the past few months until Walnut Hill road construction finally crimped its jugular. Gershwin's chef Jesse Moreno-Valle (Popolos, Seventeen Seventeen among others), who has been cooking in Dallas for some two decades, has taken a post as executive chef of the Sheraton South Padre Island Beach Hotel. Crayton shut down his Crayton's Restaurant & Bar this past April after flood damage sustained from that month's torrential rains filled his dining room with 7 inches of water. For additional reporting, visit the June 19 posting "Nice Work if You Can Get It" at the Dallas Observer blog, Unfair Park.