Free the French

It's not only freedom fries and a plunge in American tourism and wine sales the French have had to contend with. Now they have to cope with the marginalization of their grub. Although Whit Meyers, who oversees food and beverage for the Entertainment Collaborative, insists Francophobia isn't the reason the EC's Jeroboam was recently transformed from a French to an American brasserie, the menu makes it clear: Cassoulet de Toulouse is out; cowboy rib eye is in. "We are taking a completely different tack after 9-11," says Meyers. "People are looking for things that are a little more comfort-oriented, a little more value-driven. Our goal is to be more things to more people." Except the French. To execute the change, the EC has pulled in chef Christopher Pyun, who opened the Green Room in 1994. Pyun replaces chef Garreth Dickey, whom Meyers says has decided "to seek other opportunities." The changes come amid sluggish sales for the pioneering downtown brasserie, which Meyers attributes not to Franco-nausea but to the war with Iraq and the Dallas smoking ban, the latter which chilled Jeroboam's late-night bar business. Yet this smokeless slippage is gradually being reversed with a late happy hour from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights that features half-price wines. Jeroboam's exclusively French wine list has also been scrubbed. And again Meyers insists the move is not because of French label resistance. There wasn't any, he says. To prove it, Meyers installed wines from Napa Valley's Frog's Leap winery to channel any "cheese-eating surrender monkey" rage into California. But Frog sales barely leaped. Meyers changed the list anyway, and it now offers wines from every major wine-growing region on the planet--even France. To inaugurate the new list, Meyers held a special Frog's Leap wine dinner, which featured French jokes between courses.

Ruggeri's Ristorante in the Quadrangle is extinct, at least according to the sign taped on the door. The notice states the "landlord [Quadrangle Associates LP] has exercised the right to terminate tenant's right of possession of the premises," adding that Ruggeri's owners are permanently barred from the restaurant. Ruggeri's relocated to the Quadrangle in 2000 from the space across the street that is now Perry's... Uncle Julio's on Greenville Avenue will shut down August 31. Opened in 1988, the restaurant hasn't eked out profits as of late, according to CEO Abdo "Joey" Shashy. Operating some 10 restaurants in Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas-Fort Worth, plus an upcoming restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, the company is scouring for another Dallas-Fort Worth location.


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