Sadly, Tarantino's is gone, flushed down the sewer. Literally. "I'm getting out," says Peter Tarantino who opened the Italian-Mediterranean tapas restaurant across from Fair Park in September 1997 with his brothers Patrick and Matthew. "There's a bad taste in my mouth." It's a taste no doubt fomented by the restaurant's sewage system. Always a nuisance in Tarantino's circa-1911 structure, the sewer took to backing up with regularity. It reached the point where ooze drizzled over the kitchen from pipes above, forcing Tarantino to shut down last March. He reopened three times since then, only to shut down after just a few days when sewage and grease-trap problems re-emerged. Tarantino says he pleaded with his former landlord, Parks Investment Co., to fix the problem. But help didn't come until Dunhill Partners purchased the building and attempted to reroute the aging sewer lines. That movement proved too late to save Tarantino's. Now he's pinning his hopes on an insurance settlement to clear his debts and make a fresh start. Says Tarantino: "Right now, I'll be honest. I'm looking for a good job." We hear plumbing pays pretty good.
Legendary Dallas restaurateur Gene Street, chairman of Consolidated Restaurant Cos., is tight-lipped about his firm's recent acquisition of III Forks steakhouse. He even balks at calling it an acquisition. "Joint venture is a better word," he stresses. Still, booty did change hands, and while Street won't disclose the terms, he did say CRC paid a premium for both the prime beef behemoth and the adjoining Buttermilk Café. Rumors had been percolating for months that something was afoot between III Forks (and Del Frisco's) founder Dale Wamstad and CRC. Talk was that CRC was itching to turn III Forks into a Cool River Café, its mega-grossing restaurant-bar concept. Not so, says Street. Will anything change? "Who knows. Maybe we'll do some doughnuts or something at Buttermilk," says Street. Other than that, Street says nothing will change. "Dale is still the captain of the ship," he says of Wamstad, who assumed the persona of Capt. Bob Cooper at III Forks. "It's his baby. Actually, I'm hoping we won't have very much to do with it at all." Street adds that CRC, which currently operates El Chico, Cantina Laredo, Cool River Café, Good Eats, and Spaghetti Warehouse restaurants, is already eyeing locations in Denver, Fort Worth, and Dallas' Victory project near the new arena for prime steakhouses. What he won't say is if the III Forks name will be dittoed--or if Capt. Bob Cooper will become an admiral.
E-mail Dish at email@example.com.
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