Double Wide founder Jim Siebert, who left the Deep Ellum bar earlier this year, is no longer involved a bid to resuscitate the legendary Trader Vic's restaurant once tucked in the circa 1967 Dallas Hilton Inn on Mockingbird Lane and set to reopen in the Hotel Palomar slowly coalescing in the Hilton's skeleton. Instead, Palomar developer Realty America Group (along with Behringer Harvard Real Estate Investments) has taken over Trader Vic's reanimation. According to Jeff Berry, partner in Realty America, Siebert took too long to build Trader Vic's financial backing. "It really made no sense to us," he says. Berry, who is currently interviewing chefs for the restaurant, says Trader Vic's will open sometime in January to complement the other Palomar restaurant, Central 214. Meanwhile, the 185-plus-room hotel is open, and its stock of 72 condos, which range in price from $350,000 for the lofts along Mockingbird to $3 million for a 5,500-square-foot penthouse atop the hotel tower, are 25 percent sold. Is Berry worried residential sales in this $100 million project are lagging in what may yet turn out to be a Dallas luxury condo glut? Not at all. He says what sets Palomar condominiums (like those at the W Hotel and the upcoming Ritz) apart are the included hotel amenities, which can command a 30 to 40 percent price premium. "We feel like we have a totally separate product from anybody else," he says.
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After just a few short weeks, Brian LaGrange is out as executive chef of Kitchen 1924 after replacing founding chef Edward Mendoza early in the summer. Kitchen 1924 owner Shawn Horne says former Green Room chef Colleen O'Hare will fill the slot. "There was no energy in the food," Horne explains. "We decided to go our separate ways." Horne expects O'Hare will propel the Kitchen to "the next level" with things such as crab-top flounder, deviled eggs with baby gherkins and a dangerous thing called ode to garlic...Opening some four years ago in the Centrum as a wild game/pan-Asian dining room cum nightclub called Dralion Restaurant & Lounge, Drae Restaurant has shut its doors due to a dispute with the Centrum's property management firm, according to a statement. Drae was shaped by Khanh Dao, who launched the restaurant shortly before she became embroiled in a nasty legal tussle with businessman and restaurateur Mike Chen over her handling of the finances at Steel Restaurant & Lounge next door. Chen, who financially backed Dao in her creation of Steel, alleged that Dao was diverting restaurant funds for personal use. Chen eventually wrested control of Steel from her grip. Dao also worked with former radio mogul Scott Ginsburg on the restaurant Voltaire. A release promises Dao will craft another "revolutionary concept" in Dallas.