Hash Over

Beer bust

I've always liked cheap beer, a taste I acquired in college that to this day is sustained by my brother-in-law, who frequently lugs 12-packs of Keystone Light over for dinner and then forgets where in the refrigerator he left them (behind the leftover herb-crusted Spam loaf). So imagine my distress when I read last week that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that cheap beer is a leading contributor to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. (The Associated Press reported that the "CDC analyzed drops in gonorrhea rates..." in the wake of alcohol-tax hikes to reach this conclusion.) I also enjoy more refined beers, such as those once brewed at Routh Street Brewery. I say once, because Routh Street suspended brewing operations a month ago. Not only that, the crisp pub will sadly shut down for good at the close of May. "The brew pub has never quite performed the way we wanted it to," says owner Gary Brown. "And we were presented with an opportunity." Brown, president of Routh Street's parent Signature Services Corp., a food-service operator that caters to schools and camps, says that opportunity is Mattito's Café Mexicano. Mattito's will move into the space and reopen August 1 after it vacates its current Oak Lawn Avenue spot. Routh Street Brewery opened in 1995 and quickly garnered acclaim both for its brew and for former chef Brian Luscher's Hill Country cuisine. So during the month of May, head over to Routh Street, order some cheap beer, and offer a toast: "To your health."

Buck banger

It seems plans to retrofit the shuttered Toscana as a French bistro called Provence have faltered. Sources say Shared Vision, the company that took control of the assets of FoodStar Restaurant Group, Toscana's onetime parent, is eagerly peddling the restaurant to interested buyers. Shared Vision President Tim Hager couldn't be reached for comment, but Robert Austin, founder of Ianos Trattoria and Hager's partner, says Provence should open somewhere near Preston and Highway 121 within five months. Austin adds that he's in the process of overhauling the menu at Mediterraneo, the other restaurant Shared Vision bagged from FoodStar. "I don't want to go in and pay $40 for a 12-ounce steak that I can't even eat because it has crap all over it," says Austin, explaining the menu simplification and cost-cutting he's implementing at the upscale Mediterraneo. "I'm just taking each and every single item on the menu and refining a little bit, putting in more bang for the buck." That bang should strike diners by the end of this week.

Mark Stuertz

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz