Bill Baine, who along with Randy DeWitt co-founded Rockfish Seafood Grill parent See-Worthy Restaurants (which either means restaurants with good eye-chart test scores or watertight restaurants with poor spelling test scores), recently chucked his 49.9 percent interest in the company for a price that included Half Shells Oyster Bar and Grill in Snider Plaza. The split with DeWitt, Baine says, was based on "philosophical differences." What differences? Baine explains he's more cautious than DeWitt, and See-Worthy's abandonment of small neighborhood restaurants in favor of rapidly spawned, large free-standing units made him nervous. "Between Randy and [me], I was definitely the more conservative one," admits Baine. "I did not feel comfortable expanding as fast. Rockfish had incredible expansion plans for the depth of talent that we had." So along with his wife, Lovett, Baine formed Neighborhood Ventures Inc. and is looking to speckle Dallas with casual neighborhood seafood concepts that depart a bit from Half Shells (though he won't say how). The first of the ventures should be announced before the end of the month.
Dallas native Jimmy Lu is opening a restaurant July 24 near Trinity Mills and the Tollway (near Sullivan's), which isn't that unusual. What is amusing is what Lu, whose dad hails from Shanghai, did before he drafted his latest venture: He was a partner in a tiny chain of New Orleans fast food outlets called Bayou Bagelry. After cashing out of his boiled-Cajun-yeast-ring business, Lu is launching Jimmy Lu's, a kind of breakfast hash of Asian cuisines. He says the model for his new restaurant is P.F. Chang's China Bistro. "They took Chinese and kind of mainstreamed it," he says of the chain. "They did all of the hard work." With that blueprint, Lu hopes to mingle Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines and make them fit for the minivan set. To do this, he's hired chef Glenn Terrell, a former AquaKnox sous chef who's also worked at Mark Miller's defunct Loongbar as well as Betelnut in San Francisco. The menu has things such as Godzilla calamari, blazing beef, tin-pan chicken, and chocolate firecrackers. Which makes you wonder what kind of schmears Lu sold down at the Bayou...Voltaire front man and manager Kent Ingram, formerly of Stephan Pyles' Baby Routh and the Mansion on Turtle Creek, has backed out of the swank North Dallas restaurant...Alberto Lombardi finally opened The Pizzeria at Lombardi's, a joint welded to the side of his Italian tapas bar Mangia e Bevi, which used to be his quasi French bistro Bizú.
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