Remember when Rosewood was courting chef Chris Ward (Mercury Grill), hoping to lure him into his own namesake restaurant in the 19-story Rosewood Court development in Uptown? Us neither. The deal seems to have fallen through before it was committed to paper. Enter Jack Baum. And David Gilbert, the talented young chef who got ensnared in the Luqa debacle downtown, otherwise known as Four Stories of Bad TIF Ambition. Baum (founder of the Canyon Restaurant Group, Newport's and Hampton's restaurants plus the private equity firm Sagebrook Technology Partners) and his restaurant management firm Food, Friends and Company, will open a fine dining restaurant in the Rosewood building early next summer, one that will serve as Gilbert's personal culinary canvas. He's hard at work developing the concept as you read this. But that's not all that's up his sleeve. Baum's FF&C, which operates 13 restaurants (including Cozymel's) in nine states, has unleashed Gilbert on its newest concept: Woodlands Grill, a sort of upper-scale Houston's-type place (soon, every restaurant will be a Houston's variant) opening simultaneously this fall in suburban Chicago and at Preston Road and Forest Lane.
Meanwhile, the Luqa/Petrus Lounge/Rooftop Gardens complex has been transformed into The Ivy Lounge, a two-story nightclub that's rentable as a banquet hall on off days. To pull this off, Luqa owner Obi Obeto partnered with David Taylor, who once had an interest in The Walrus Restaurant & Bar near the Dallas World Aquarium with entrepreneur John Reardon, and sold off its four-story Main Street building while retaining a 75 percent interest in The Ivy Lounge to Taylor's 25 percent. "He's just basically taking a step back so that we can move two steps forward," Taylor says.
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That creaky wooden blockhouse on McKinney Avenue has been a lot of things, slinging a diverse lot of nosh over the years: Yellow (global eclectic), Watel's (French), chef Joseph Gutierriz's Tutto (Mediterranean-Ital) and Temptations (Indian), which closed earlier this year. Come November, Gui Korean Japanese Bistro will move in...Marc Cassel has moved to the front lines at Parigi, assisting owner Janice Provost until she finds a new chef. Cassel was at Stephan Pyles, working the glassy kitchen cube until a few weeks ago when a month of R&R was in the cards. "I've got two or three things I can do," the former Green Room and Hotel ZaZa chef says. "I'm just trying to decide which one makes the most sense."