Hash Over

Rerun undone

It's curtains for "the ultimate experience in fine dining and live jazz entertainment," otherwise known as Joshelé. What's up? "Just, some things," deadpans Joseph Barbaria, president of Republic Natural Resources Inc., the Plano restaurant's owner. Make that a few thousand things. A spokesman in Republic's offices -- Barbaria refused to elaborate -- says that when Barbaria purchased Bistro 1401 to launch Joshelé last fall, he discovered the operation was sagging under a debt load that he now claims wasn't fully disclosed. "It would be like buying a ship that you thought had just a few problems to take care of, and instead you bought the Titanic just before it slipped under," the spokesman says. Maybe purchasing a ship with its stern up in the air and its bow winking at the bottom of the Atlantic skirts full disclosure in some circles.

Despite the Titanic metaphor, some haven't been entertained by what looks like an ongoing Joshelé shirk. Beginning in late March, the restaurant and Barbaria have been sued by three firms -- Seafood Supply, Sysco Food Services, and The Dallas Morning News -- seeking a total of some $95,000 in skipped payments for various goods and services (including $12,000 in assumed Bistro 1401 debt).

But this may be just an ultimate dining rerun. Back in 1995, Barbaria attempted to launch a similar restaurant dubbed Joshelé in Addison through his now bankrupt firm Gulf Oil & Refining Co. One source, who spoke on condition that he not be identified, claims he and former Star Canyon manager Reggie Park (now with Reata in Fort Worth) developed the concept for Barbaria only to have him yank the plug at the last minute. This time, however, it appears the concept won't rise again. Barbaria reportedly came up with the tag "Joshelé" by combining his and his wife Michele's first names. And just as Joshelé was bolted shut in early June, Barbaria sued his wife for divorce.

Svalesen cuts bait

After just over two years of upscale fishmongering and near-ceaseless press fawning (sometimes recanted), Fish chef Chris Svalesen is cutting loose from the downtown seafood haunt he founded with partner Steven Upright. Svalesen will open a new seafood restaurant September 1 on McKinney Avenue. As for details of the new project, Svalesen is about as forthcoming as a pair of bass lips. Still, he did reveal plans to quickly open additional restaurants in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Houston. Only fish I know that's a glutton for that much punishment is a salmon in heat.

— Mark Stuertz

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz