Rumors have been flying that Nikita, the Cold War Eastern Bloc vodka depot/diner, is about to be sold. Or close. Or crumble like a bad wall in schizophrenic Germany--all after a breathless run of fickle lust that once strung endless and eager lines around Nikita's West Village loins. Not so, says Nikita co-founder Russell Hayward. "Summer was rough, as it was for a lot of people," he points out, adding that in early November, Nikita rang up its best revenues since last April. Yet when pressed, Hayward concedes there is substance to the rumors. A couple of parties, he says, have approached him about picking up Nikita--offers he quickly rebuffed. But he felt it prudent to present the proposals to his partners, who urged him to put out feelers to gauge the zeitgeist. "So we explored it, and it didn't turn into anything," he insists. "We were just looking at what the options were." Those options may include an upper-level concept shift over Nikita's more robust subterranean level. Meanwhile, work has started on a Tom Tom Noodle House makeover, which is invading the West Village space that was once the gift shop Trumeau. Hayward says the expansion will facilitate a full bar as well as more seats in the dining room--which seemed ripe for a '60s-style phone booth/Volkswagen-stuffing contest. He's sniffing out Tom Tom locations in other states, too.
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Ferré/Crú Wine Bar founder (and the hired hand tapped to stiffen the financially flabby Steel Restaurant) Patrick Colombo is in the thick of other high-profile restaurant plans. His "Houston's-like" American-grill concept with the working title "Central 75 Grill" is tentatively set for NorthPark Center sometime over the next 18 months. Then there's that other project: Victory Tavern, a "classic American tavern with modern touches" that will get punched into the Victory project embracing a W Hotel and Residences near the American Airlines Center sometime in the spring of 2005...Red Jacket and the Ruby Room, John Kenyon's Greenville Avenue club opened seven years ago and billed as "Dallas' only soul dance club with a Pig Bar," has shut down...The Wine Institute reports it is in the process of teasing from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission a listing of "approved" ZIP codes that can be designated as "entirely wet." This is not meant to sniff out which Texas precincts are in a state of arousal, but to determine which consumers in what Texas ZIP codes are legally ready to receive wine bottles shipped from California wineries. Why not just try a sloppy kiss?