Chef Gilbert Garza, who's been holed up in his tiny restaurant Suze for the past couple of years, hasn't been making much noise. He is now, though, because his kitchen is crowded. "Garreth Dickey has been cooking in my kitchen for the past three weeks," he says, referring to the former Jeroboam chef, "and the executive chef from Il Sole is my new partner." That would be Jeffery Hobbs, to whom Garza says he is chipping off a piece of the general partnership that operates not only Suze but at least one restaurant in the planning stages. Garza is in expansion mode, and he claims raising money in Dallas isn't the humiliating self-flagellation exercise you might think. "We're not the type of group that's going to be interested in $3 and $4 million restaurants," he points out. "That's just not who we are." He adds he hopes to entice Dickey with a stake in a project. "To have that kind of gun power in here lately has been a lot of fun," he says. "A lot of pedigree there."
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Many observers, including us, thought it odd that Sipango founder Ron Corcoran and Sipango founding chef Matt Antonovich recently became so excited because they're reunited. If our memory serves correctly, a lot of vendors and contractors who got burned back in 1999 on the chef's short-lived (five weeks) Antonovich's Tuscan Steak House in Plano had vowed to pelt him with burned bridge detritus if he ever showed his face in North Texas again. But Corcoran's bar operation is buckling under the competitive pressures of Dallas' saturated nightlife business. So, after pondering plans to lease the restaurant side to a chef/operator and peg his fortunes on martinis and hip poses, he's decided to sex up Sipango's kitchen with what he knows: Antonovich, whom he saved from a career selling houses in Kentucky. In addition to Sipango, Corcoran is recasting the struggling Daxx/214 space on Lower Greenville and using it as a prototype for expansion. "We've spent more money per square foot than any other restaurant in Dallas," he says of the space. "We spent a half million dollars in one year on 1,500 square feet of space." Odd boast. But he's brought in Lizard Lounge owner Don Nedler, who bailed him out of the financial tar pit and injected fresh capital to launch Coconut Island Grill, a concept they plan to expand in Dallas and perhaps Addison. In keeping with his new focus, Corcoran says he's scuttling his private club The Sellar, reserving the space for private parties and his personal use. But during the Dallas Film Festival, it will emerge as Deep Lava, where all of the Dallas filmmakers and actors will come to party, if it isn't cooked into Pompeii before then.