Hibiscus Itch

It might seem that Tristan Simon, founder of Cuba Libre and Consilient Restaurants company, is getting a little megalomaniacal on his Henderson Street turf. First there's Sense, the upscale bar he's opening across from Cuba Libre in March with Bob's Steak & Chop House founder Bob Sambol. Then a few weeks ago Simon purchased the Moroccan bar Casbah on Willis just off Henderson, which he plans to reopen in late February as a yet unnamed bar. Now Simon is planning another Henderson Street restaurant in the space currently occupied by On Consignment called Hibiscus, which will showcase his chef Nick Badovinus.

Yet maybe this seeming mental disorder is really a skin affliction. "We've got all of these itches we need to scratch," says Badovinus, who is also working on the menus for Simon's Las Colinas restaurant called Blue Fire, to open in June.

When completed sometime next fall, Hibiscus will feature "explosive" flavors plus a bar called The Porch that will serve Sticks and Stones, shorthand for skewered nibbles and raw shellfish.

Badovinus describes Hibiscus as West Coast comfortable with a heavy bias toward seafood. "This is the restaurant that made me get into this business in the first place," he emphasizes. The food will be simple, yet modestly priced. "I'm not really smart enough to do anything fancy," he admits.

After spending some $5,000 on billboards and other campaign detritus on his aborted mayoral bid, Dallas Texadelphia co-founder Tom Landis isn't quite ready to exit city politics. In addition to quashing rumors that he was buying votes for $5,000 as a candidate, Landis has decided to throw his weight behind Laura Miller. "They all really want my endorsement, for what that's worth," he says. But his big push is urging mayoral wannabes to focus on streamlining the city's restaurant permitting process, which he says is absurdly long and cumbersome. He has other concerns, too. "I want restaurants to step forward to give half-price discounts on Election Day to anyone who votes," he says. In between not buying overpriced votes and not running for mayor, Landis has taken the time to move Texadelphia, which he planned to open on McKinney Avenue in the former Lulu's Bait Shack, to Deep Ellum in the space that was once Ketama...For those wondering where the frenetically ambulant Steven Occhipinti is this hour, he's manager of restaurant operations at Voltaire, though he might be gone by the time you read this.

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