Pool cues or bamboo sticks? Chopsticks or billiard chalk? These were once the riveting questions posed up the Dallas North Tollway. But plans to plop a Cool River Café in the former Voltaire/Bamboo Bamboo space appear to be snuffed, though Consolidated Restaurant Operations Chairman Gene Street holds out a chance they may gel. "We're still trying to do a Cool River on the tollway at the same location...and a couple of other locations," he insists. Yet the tag stapled to the Bamboo Bamboo sign says "for lease" with a phone number to a Staubach Company representative, who says Cool River billiard table felt has been ripped from the building's redecorating options permanently. He adds he is actively pursuing lessors and buyers for Scott Ginsburg's juicy corner property at Keller Springs. Meanwhile, Rick Stein, longtime general manager at Consolidated's III Forks steak house is out and has been replaced by chef Chris Vogeli. Street says Stein is pursuing his own restaurant.
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Mike Chen, financial backer of Stolik, Patrick Colombo's Ferré and Crú, and the new owner of Steel Restaurant after he ousted Khanh Dao in a nasty legal tussle, has opened a new restaurant with Anson Chan (Yolis Seafood & Grill): Kirin Court Chinese Restaurant in the second-story space that was once Hong Kong Royal in Richardson. Meanwhile, the Steel chaos immediately following Dao's departure seems to have subsided. The cell phone relay that ensued after Dao abruptly shut off the phones has been halted. The moisture and warped flooring from errant plumbing have been fixed. General Manager Chuck Kneeland (Ferré) is dropping a few of Steel's stratospheric prices. Even wine is being subjected to close scrutiny. Wine pro Darryl Beeson (Voltaire, The Mansion) has been brought in to tease some sense out of the wealth of wines assembled by Dao, which means there soon may be bottles for less than $90...Rumors that Paris Vendême will become yet another steak house don't have any meat, according to Restaurant Life head Mico Rodriguez. Instead, Vendôme is leaning heavier into its French brasserie roots (this after Brasserie Jeroboam went Yankee). Rodriguez does say he's stuffing the menu with prime steaks, though...There's apparently no meat to rumors that Fleming's Steak House has been sold off or will shutter. "We're open, we're operating and we're busy right now, as a matter of fact," points out managing partner Skip Fox. Yet he's circumspect: "It has been tough up here on the tollway. There's no question about that. There're an awful lot of competitors up here."