Probably the only difference between a marriage and a business partnership is that business partners generally don't get to see belly-button lint on the vanity or have the sheets fluffed over them after dinner at El Chico. But that's the only difference. They both begin with a glint in the eye and toasts and end in blizzards of paperwork. Royce Ring, who recently exited Triple R Group, the restaurant development firm that launched Tom Tom Noodle House and Nikita, says he's anxious to close the chapter on the firm he founded with cohort Russell Hayward. "My immediate plans are to get this settlement agreement wrapped up with Triple R," he says. On the question of his split with Triple R and his longtime colleague Hayward, Ring is a bit more cagey, comparing it to marital bliss gone blah. "When I got divorced, I made a point not to talk to friends, family and certainly my children about the exact reasons for the divorce," Ring says. "The fact that I got divorced is enough to telegraph a pretty strong message to some people." Ring, who spearheaded the development of Samba Room, Fishbowl and Mignon, among others under the Carlson Restaurants Worldwide rubric Emerging Brands, has linked with Chicago-based Knauer Inc., a hospitality architectural and design firm whose Dallas projects include Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Samba Room and Fishbowl. Ring says he plans to launch a Southwest office with the firm with plans to develop "high-concept" bars and restaurants. As part of his settlement with Triple R, Ring says he has retained the right to expand the Nikita concept, which he plans to launch in other U.S. cities.
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In other Triple R related news, Colleen O'Hara has been elevated to executive chef of Nikita in West Village, replacing Lisa Lawson, who has returned to Houston's Restaurants from whence she came. Departed chef Timothy Byres, who spearheaded menu development for Tom Tom Noodle House and Nikita, has just concluded a temporary stint at Jeroboam, filling in for executive chef Garreth Dickey, who has been traveling. Entertainment Collaborative partner Whit Meyers says the EC has just instituted a "feed me-wine me" prix fixe menu at Jeroboam along the lines of the EC's Green Room, albeit with an exclusively French wine list...La Duni founder Espartico Borga says he's looking to expand his Latin American concept in Dallas. "We're looking at about 10 different spots as we speak...in Dallas," he says. Depending on the space he locks up, Borga says the new restaurant will either be a La Duni clone or a new Argentinean concept he's been developing.