Nice Work If You Can Get It

The guy who owned this Fair Park-area restautant owes the city $50,000. He's also trying to reopen Gershwin's.
After 20-plus years, Gershwin's bit it last week. Construction near the intersection of Walnut Hill Road and Greenville Avenue was cited as the final coffin nail. But what's more intriguing is who is planning to resurrect it--none other than caterer Ronnie Crayton of Bay Leaf in Deep Ellum and Crayton's Restaurant & Bar across the street from Fair Park. For those with short-term memories, Crayton also owes the city of Dallas about $50,000 on a loan he never paid back to the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund. In fact, at this very moment his case file's sitting on the desk of an assistant city attorney, Charles Black, who had no idea till reached by Unfair Park this afternoon that Crayton was planning to reopen Gershwin's.

Despite the debt to the city, Crayton says he has gathered a couple of money-bagged investors ready to reinforce his signature. Still, he says, "everything's still kind of up in the air."

Most recently owned by Garland physician Christy Schade, Gershwin's was twisting and gasping over the past few months until road construction finally crimped its jugular. Gershwin's chef Jesse Moreno-Valle, who has been cooking in Dallas for some two decades at such establishments as Popolos and Seventeen Seventeen, has taken a post as executive chef of the Sheraton South Padre Island Beach Hotel. So, what does Crayton plan to do with Gershwin's?

"It's been there for a long time," he says. "I can't see changin' it too much."

Crayton shut down his Crayton's Restaurant & Bar this past April 4 after flood damage sustained from that month's torrential rains filled his dining room with seven inches of rain gush. "I just decided it was time to cut my losses and look at something else," he says.

That's pretty much the same thing Leo Barron Hicks, the trust fund's administrator, told Unfair Park this afternoon, when asked about the status of Crayton's loan. Said Hicks, "The trust fund has fulfilled its obligation in terms of turning it over to legal for resolution. We've done all we could to make due on the loan, and it's in legal's court to make good." Robert Sims, the assistant city attorney who sits in on South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund meetings, said this afternoon the city's currently trying to figure out how much the equipment in the restaurant is worth so it can sell it off; after that, Sims said, Crayton will have to pay off the balance or face a lawsuit from the city. When asked if he knew Crayton was trying to re-open Gershwin's, Sims said no. When asked if he wanted to comment, Sims said no. Then, he kind of laughed. --Mark Stuertz and Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky