Nicotine Fit

The Greater Dallas Restaurant Association has released the results of the study it commissioned to examine the impact of the March 1, 2003, smoking ban in restaurants. And like a day-old Pall Mall butt dangling from the bright red lips of a hardened professional, the findings aren't pretty. Drafted by University of North Texas economists Terry Clower and Bernard Weinstein, the study shows the city lost $11.8 million (or 3.6 percent) in restaurant and bar alcoholic beverage sales in 2003 compared with 2002, continuing a sinking trend that began in 2001 (down $370,000) and 2002 (down $4.1 million)--plunges the study attributes largely to 9-11 spasms and the tech wreck. But 2003 was considered a recovery period, so the steep drop in hooch loot is startling, especially when compared with outlying suburbs, which racked up mostly robust alcohol sales growth ranging from 3.2 percent (Richardson) to 7.9 percent (Plano) to 12.2 percent (Frisco). The only other city to show a loss was Irving (0.8 percent). The study also claims the smoking ban forced at least four longtime Dallas restaurants to close: Matt's No Place, Liberty, Tipperary Inn and the Enclave. Accompanying materials claim Two Rows Grill opted for expansion in Addison (sales up 3.3 percent) over Dallas as a result of the ban. Conclusion: Dallas is becoming a dining vegetable. But you can avert disaster. Become a criminal and fire up in a restaurant bar today. Better yet, join a criminal smoking gang and puff stogies in several restaurant bars as part of a hospitality crime spree. Light them with citations from previous violations. Don't forget to buy drinks.

Word is Sipango owner Ron Corcoran has lured former Dragonfly (Hotel Za Za) executive chef Jeff Moschetti to be the chef/partner in his new restaurant slated to replace Sipango. "That's a good rumor," Corcoran admits. "We're dating right now." If there's an engagement, Corcoran says, he and Moschetti will shut down Sipango around Valentine's Day for a 60-day makeover that will include a new name...Plans for an über-pricey Kobe beef steak house in Dallas fed by Gary Yamamoto's Kobe beef ranch in East Texas is officially snuffed. "We were a signature away," says Mark Hoegh, marketing director for YamaBeef. "But at the last minute we just kind of thought maybe some of our existing customers may not be happy we were getting in the business with them." So they opened a beef resort. The Inn at B.K. Ranch, 10 or so miles south of Athens, is a 20-room lodge surrounded by bass lakes. It also features a Kobe beef restaurant called Beverly's, named after Yamamoto's wife, with former Lakewood Country Club chef Michael Scott. It even has a helipad for emergency Atkins treatments.

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