Gene and Julie Are Shaking Things Up at Battuto, with a New Chef and More

Battuto is showing some signs of trouble, but they're making some changes to keep afloat. When Gene and Julie Gates' radio show on KVIL-FM 103.7 was canceled, their plans to open up an Italian restaurant in Plano caused a bit of a stir. But after the restaurant opened this spring and the first looks died down, coverage of the restaurant got quiet.

Real quiet.

Then this August a short blurb about a pizza topped with slices of filet mignon ran on D's Side Dish. It's an odd creation, but Nancy Nichols endorsed it saying "eat this now." Then The Dallas Morning News published a review noting the two affable owners might get up and actually work the dining room a little more. Kim Pierce was not wowed by the food either, and awarded two stars.

Now it looks like the radio-couple-turned-restaurateurs are trying to revamp their restaurant. They've hired a new chef, Joel Harloff, who will take on some additional duties as well.

"Chef Harloff will oversee all aspects of the culinary program as well as personnel and revenue management," the news release reads, which points out an often overlooked aspect of the restaurant business. A restaurant can have great food, and a beautiful dining room that's consistently filled with diners, but if the staff doesn't control food, personnel and other costs that can eat away at profits, it will still go under.

Harloff cooked at Dali Wine Bar before it closed in 2010. He's also worked at the Warwick Melrose Hotel, Green Room, Mi Piaci, The Second Floor and most recently Ocho Kitchen, which closed this summer. According to his résumé, Harloff has also made two trips to the James Beard House. Hopefully he can bring some new life to Battuto's kitchen.

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