Former Sfuzzi co-founder Patrick Colombo, developer of the Italian restaurant Ferré and the chic wine bar Crú, both in the West Village, says he is close to consummating a deal on the space that was most recently Alvin Granoff's Eccolo Ristorante and Enoteca before it was Alvin Granoff's Ecco Italia. What would he do with this ecco chamber? Steer it in one of two directions: an Italian steak house or a New American restaurant hinged on the shoulders of "a high-end chef." Colombo also says he is in the process of expanding his Ferré-Crú duet, dropping a Crú at the Shops at Legacy in Plano near the Angelika Film Center set to open sometime in October. This new Crú will be roomier, with a private room so he can drum up corporate events from the likes of EDS, JC Penney and Frito Lay. Colombo adds he's got Cowtown plans for both Ferré and Crú, too. "The formula works," he says. "Will it work somewhere else? That's the thing I gotta learn. Is it just this location, or is it really a concept?"
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Also bubbling to the surface in Shops at Legacy is Kent Rathbun's latest brain whelp: a 10,000-square-foot downscale (compared with his acclaimed Abacus anyway) restaurant that his public relations rep likens to a Houston's. Saddled with the working moniker Jasper's, the project should open in late April or early May...Explosively talented chef Avner Samuel (Yellow, Avner's, Bistro A, Bistro K, etc.) has vacated his executive chef post at Lombardi Mare to embark on another restaurant project, according to sources inside the restaurant. No word on Samuel's replacement at Alberto Lombardi's seafood restaurant...Dakota's, which shut down last summer because of flooding from a 12-inch water main that ruptured at the intersection of North Akard and Ross Avenue, most likely won't reopen until the spring, according to sources at the restaurant. No word on if any concept changes are in store for the near two-decade-old Dallas institution...Tiki Bob's, a tropical-island-themed restaurant and "party bar" with a "Polynesian flair," opened late last week in the West End opposite Hooter's (in the space formerly Bar Dallas). This home of the Tiki platter--a veggie, chicken and seafood grazing range blended with a "flair for the dramatic"--also contains "an enormous volcanic dance floor" and a "team of mixologists...working overtime in the lab to come up with a menu of drinks." Let's hope no one knocks the dance floor volcano into the lab or they may have to rename it Tiki Boom.