Sea Grill is an old seafood restaurant that moved from its Plano environs on Central Expressway to new digs on the North Dallas Tollway near Trinity Mills. This might have been just a boring location change, one sparked by a group of restaurant owners trying to beat the clock on an expiring lease, except this one has some soap to it that makes it a little more interesting. The new Sea Grill, which opened under that banner a few weeks ago, has taken over the space that was once Ricardo's, a restaurant owned by longtime Dallas operator Richard Galvan. Galvan was one of a handful of Dallas businessmen who got stiffed when former Sipango/III Forks/Lone Wolf Lounge chef Matt Antonovich decided to open a restaurant and name it after himself. Just a few weeks after opening in the spring of 1999, Antonovich's turned out to be so hot that Antonovich had to escape from Dallas to outrun the horde of generally genial Dallas businessmen who wanted to tie him up like a boneless rolled rump roast and toss him on the Weber. To execute his restaurant, Antonovich convinced Galvan to allow him to convert Galvan's then 3-year-old Ricardo's Ristorante Mexicano on Preston Road in Plano--one of several Ricardo's locations over the years--into his own restaurant with no money down. Antonovich then rang up tens of thousands of dollars in bills he could not satisfy, eventually stiffing vendors, contractors, and Galvan himself. In March of last year, Antonovich filed for bankruptcy in Louisville, Kentucky. His wife, Melea, followed suit in November.
"I was burned out. I didn't have my heart in it anymore," says Galvan, explaining why he sold Ricardo's Tollway location to Sea Grill owners, who assumed many of Galvan's debts in the beleaguered operation. According to Sue Sudhi, a partner in Sea Grill, they took over the restaurant in July shortly after Galvan, too, filed for bankruptcy. They operated it as Ricardo's until December. Galvan says that over the past couple of years, he's lost the belly fire that once drove him to launch and operate some seven restaurants in Dallas over the past 28 years. Subsequently, his ambitions have evaporated to a ghost of what they once were. He now is a partner with his brother-in-law in a small restaurant called Manny's Grill in Frisco. Did his brush with Antonovich exhaust him? "It didn't help me any," says Galvan. "I had bank notes that [Antonovich] had agreed to pay. And he couldn't. And I just couldn't do it. There was a lot of stress with the Plano operation and what happened with Antonovich."