Mongol Horde

Henderson Avenue nightlife necromancer Tristan Simon--whose Cuba Libre Cafe and private club called Sense have been generating more buzz than a two-speed nose hair trimmer--has purchased a big chunk of Genghis Grill, a Dallas chain of create-your-own-stir-fry Mongolian barbecues. Consilient Restaurants L.P., Simon's command and control umbrella, picked up 50 percent of Genghis Grill, which has seven locations in the area and one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Tristan was looking for a vehicle for a national presence," says Jeff Sinelli, who founded Genghis Grill in 1998. "And he found it with Genghis Grill, I think." Simon could not be reached for his thoughts. But Sinelli says immediate plans call for the rollout of a trio of fast casual versions of Genghis Grill in Dallas next year after a combination of several corporate and franchised units penetrate four more states: Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Colorado. Sinelli adds he and Simon plan to have invaded a total of 10 states with the grill concept by the end of next year.

Rumors have been raging that Alvin Granoff has Eccolo Ristorante and Enoteca on the block. OK, maybe not raging. It's not so much that Granoff changed the name to Ecco Italia and dropped the menu prices a bit. It was that hordes of bottom feeders were rumored to be circling the 2-year-old restaurant. OK, maybe not hordes. "What's not for sale?" Granoff asks after being asked if he's selling. "There are some people who have approached me." And Granoff admits he's been struggling as of late. The sluggish economy plus Dallas' staunch resistance to the authentic regional Italian fare he serves (it's too advanced for Dallas, he says) combined to knock the wind out of Ecco. "Either we get massive support from the community coming in here and breaking the doors down and we're busy, or we change concepts...or someone else does something," assures Granoff. In the meantime, Granoff is holding a wine sale beginning Friday and running through the following Friday. He's betting he's not the only one who needs a drink at a discount...Khanh Dao, founder of Steel in the Centrum, says her new restaurant just a door down will be called Steel II-the Drálion, a "EurAsian steak and game" spot. Hollywood sequels have finally conquered dinner...And Hollywood is where George Papadopoulos, the defunct executive chef of the defunct Voltaire, is. He says he's set to take a position as a private chef for some undisclosed "famous people," where he'll cook for them for several months as they skirt the Caribbean in a yacht. "It's not the same as putting out 300 covers on a Friday night, but it's different," he says. The difference is Dramamine.


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