Abacus. That's the name Kent Rathbun plans to slap on his long-discussed restaurant going into the former Big Shots billiard hall on McKinney Avenue. Right now, though, the place looks a bit disheveled, as though maybe the CIA mixed up their city street atlases again and mistook the spot for a Chinese embassy or an aspirin factory. The front of it has been sheared off. Even the parking lot is chewed up, which got a merchant across the street a little panicky: "There's no parking around here as it is. What are they doing?"
Hard to say. Rathbun couldn't be reached for comment. Anyway, Abacus is supposed to open sometime this fall. Only George and Katie Brown, originally part of Rathbun's chef team and his one-time key kitchen players at Seventeen Seventeen, won't be there. "I needed to move up," says Brown, who would have been Rathbun's chef de cuisine. "This was a step down." So with backing from Katie Brown's father, the pair will open a catering company in Deep Ellum this summer to generate cash before following up with a restaurant sometime next spring. Brown says they'll continue to explore cuisine with global influences, albeit with different twists. "We'll do a lot of what I call homeboy kind of stuff...but upscale. You know, goat cheese terizzo grits." Or pickled pigs feet in Joan & David pumps. Like Rathbun's project, this venture has a snappy name: George. Maybe they could get that famous New York bar flunky who posed naked in his magazine of the same name to christen it.
Bruno and Judy do Ellum
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Chef Bruno Mella -- of Fire House and Daddy Jack's, and crafter of the menu at the defunct Champagne -- is collaborating with caterer Judy Chorbajian (Gourmet Co.) on a new Deep Ellum restaurant dubbed Mel's on Main. The project is slated to go into the space that has been home to a host of belly flops including Snake River Saloon, Rehab Lounge, and Avner Samuel's Da Spot. With a wood grill and an exposition kitchen, the 100-seat restaurant will serve what the pair terms Continental with an American flare. Not sure what that means, but look for things like wild duck and Italian sausage hash, carrot and coriander soup with aged gorgonzola and garlic croutons, and maybe a quail and a snail steamed in Budweiser.