Grape Juice

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After 35 years of slinging bistro food and popping corks, Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker are taking a permanent breather from The Grape. Enter former The Grape executive chef Brian Luscher. Luscher -- who most recently cooked at TPC Craig Ranch golf club and was named Avid Golfer magazine’s Best Private Club Chef in Dallas-Fort Worth this year -- has bundled a cadre of 10 investors to take over the restaurant October 1, with an official “passing of the torch” shindig October 26 -- the mark of the restaurant and wine bar’s 35th anniversary. The Grape was among the first restaurants in Dallas to serve wine by the glass when it opened in 1972.

Among his chef notches, Luscher brought Hill Country cuisine to the defunct Routh Street Brewery & Grill back in the day when brew pubs were breeding in Dallas like sushi bars. He says he and his wife Courtney had assembled a business plan and were shopping for investor capital for a restaurant in East Dallas two months ago when he got a call from Parker and McDaniel. “They said, ‘Hey, we heard you’ve been kickin’ some tires, and we’d love to talk to you,’” Luscher tells Unfair Park.

What does it mean? Luscher says he’ll make only superficial changes and updates to the classic Lower Greenville Avenue restaurant, often named Dallas’ most romantic spot, plus a hefty push on the wine program.

“How do you improve on 35 years of success?” he asks. Flashlights, we say. The place was too dark. Even romance needs to see what the hell it’s doin’.

The Grape executive chef Michael Weinstein, an Aurora alum, will exit, while Luscher’s wife Courtney, a former general manager of Dakota’s, will be GM. The more things change... --Mark Stuertz

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