Driving Pyles

Celebrity chef Stephan Pyles, who has spent the past few months drafting and spit-polishing the food-service operation for Hotel Zaza and its restaurant Dragonfly (and has just signed an agreement to stay on for another year to keep the polishing spit flying), has found himself in the middle of a fresh consulting situation. Pyles is conferring with Nashville, Tennessee-based Gaylord Hotels over their Gaylord Opryland Texas Resort and Convention Center sprawl set to open April 2004 on the shores of Lake Grapevine. The Star Canyon creator is developing a restaurant featuring New Texas cuisine with an international Hispanic influence for the 1,510-room resort, which means a tapas and ceviche bar, though there's no word if the interior design will employ branding irons. This is just one of many consulting jobs Pyles is left to ponder and cherry-pick lately. "I didn't have that many offers in the beginning, but within the last six or eight months I've just gotten more than I could possibly do," says Pyles, who adds his ambitions for his own restaurant have gotten shoved somewhere onto a rear burner. "It's just a much easier way of life when it's not your money and your responsibility."

Pyles' one-time possession Star Canyon is rumored to be among a crop of restaurants about to be plucked. Sources say as many as 15 restaurants from Carlson Restaurants Worldwide's discarded Emerging Brands division (Timpano, Samba Room, Star Canyon) are being grouped together for a possible sale to Florida investors, though Carlson would not comment on the impending transaction. "We are not able to discuss the sale at all at this point until the deal has been finalized," a Carlson spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, at least two Dallas operators have been flirting with Carlson over Fishbowl on Knox Street, the Asian restaurant that sprouted from the carcass of Pyles' AquaKnox after Carlson purchased it along with Star Canyon...Ron Corcoran can't quite bring himself to dismiss a rumor that his new Daxx bar on Greenville Avenue and Sipango are ripe for a sell-off. "Everything's for sale," he says, voicing what is becoming standard lingo among restaurateurs in unload mode. "If somebody would pay me the money that I'm asking, both of them could be sold." But while his restaurant/bar operations pose ambivalently on the block, Corcoran is divesting himself of his 50 percent stake in Rich Hippie Clothing, the used and remanufactured clothing boutique he launched with Dallas couture gadfly Eric Kimmel. It was also rumored that Corcoran's new Sipango/Daxx chef Kelly Hightower was going to back out, but Corcoran says he's convinced him to stay on. As of yet, Corcoran says no buyers have emerged for his wares. "Sipango's never going to get sold," he insists.


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