It's a breeding pen, this North Texas prairie. Even the locals are doing it. The Porch for instance, Tristan Simon's new casual American concept that stumbled mightily on construction delays rehabbing the old Barley House: It should be open by the time you put this under the parakeet. New York-based SushiSamba, a mosh pit of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian (Peruvian street skewers, which could be grilled meats or a dagger-juggling dance troupe) influences, opens its sixth unit, in the Galleria, at the same time. Over at Mockingbird Station, 24-year-old Mexico City native Markus Pinyero opens Urban Taco, an upscale taqueria with a vast bottled Mexican beer selection supplemented with tequila boost. Former Stephan Pyles' sous chef Fernando Huerta will work the kitchen. Then there's Patrick Colombo. Before year's end, he and partner Mike Chen will open the second Steel Restaurant in midtown Atlanta. After that he will unreel a slew of Crú Wine Bars, including one in Allen in the new Watters Creek "retail resort," a second each in Austin, Houston and Denver, and another in San Antonio. But Colombo's most pressing challenge is adapting to the Stars/Mavericks surges at his Victory Tavern City Grille near the American Airlines Center. "I was very disappointed that the Mavericks lost," Colombo says. "It's going to mean a lot of lost revenue for us."
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Is Luqa undergoing a field dress? After shedding director of operations Kyle Kepner to Kenichi, the multi-story restaurant and lounge lost assistant general manager and sommelier Phil Natale, who is now a manager at Bob's Steak & Chop House in the new restaurant development in Grapevine spearheaded by Cool River Café/Fox & Hound founder Steve Hartnett. Code name: Epicenter. "I didn't want things that were going on there to begin to reflect on me," says Natale of Luqa. "Short term, I think people throw you a bone. But long term..." Natale will be joining former Consilient Restaurants VP Monte Morris and one-time Silver Fox Steakhouse sommelier Luigi Santos. Consilient is hitting Epicenter too. Fireside Pies should open before the end of the year with perhaps a Cuba Libre to follow...Doomsday rumors have been fizzing for weeks over Avner Samuel's Med-casual Urban Bistro. Why? The offshoot on Frankford shut "to re-concept," according to Samuel's wife, Celeste. Into what? When? She doesn't know. But she assures the Inwood version won't be affected. "We just felt like we needed something different in that location," she says...Former Del Frisco's Fort Worth sommelier Ceferino Zambrano is opening Zambrano Wine Cellar come June. Fort Worth hasn't seen such a wine bar since Michel Baudouin's Grape Escape (which Zambrano unsuccessfully tried to purchase), which was sold around 2001 before it went tapas last year before its belly went up.