Luqa's Luck?

In retrospect it seems Luqa director of operations Kyle Kepner was a commander not so much of a layered urban restaurant-lounge but of construction delays and indigested ambitions. Luqa and Petrus Lounge (originally conceived as Cascades) went through years of false starts, missed deadlines and millions in design and construction before it finally opened last November. Now? Kepner is gone and has taken over as general manager at Kenichi in Victory Park. "There was a bigger future," he says. Yes? In addition to the Austin original there are also Kenichis in Aspen and Hawaii, and Kepner says he hopes to ride a wave of Kenichi expansion, although he points to two schools of thought within the organization: big expansion versus little expansion. Nevertheless, Kepner feels Kenichi's potentialities beat Luqa's. "It's the possibility of moving up and getting out of the crazy restaurant hours and things that we all strive for," he admits. So in the name of striving, Kepner has set about building the largest sake list in Texas, pouring more than 100 examples of the brewed rice wine, trouncing the original Austin location by 55. "It's hard to get ahold of 100 brands, but we're going to get as many as we can," he promises.


Pascal Cayet is back. The owner of Lavendou Bistro Provençal in far North Dallas is expanding in the wake of his closure and sale of Chez Gerard, the French restaurant that thrived for nearly 20 years before the McKinney high-rise condo demographic invaded and turned it into old withered hat. In mid-April, Cayet will open Olea, a Mediterranean bistro in Lakeside Market (two miles north of Lavendou on Preston Road) in the Café Italia space that was once companion to the original Café Italia on Lovers Lane. There, Olea will revel in the cuisines of Italy, Spain and France plus some from Morocco. The 3,200-square-foot, 100-seat Olea will feature a tapas bar and maybe a patio if Cayet's scrum with Plano city officials bears fruit... Tim Love, who invented his own brand of "fine urban Western cuisine" (grilled red deer chops with truffled mac and cheese, buffalo rib eye, Boursin-stuffed kangaroo carpaccio nachos with avocado relish, etc.) at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, has closed his Big Apple Lonesome Dove rendition after just a few months. "Tim Love, the owner and chef, received a generous offer for the space and decided to accept it," read a statement from Love's publicist. Love himself declined to comment or reveal the buyer, but he did say, through his publicist no less, that he's looking forward to opening the Love Shack, an outdoor burger joint, later this month in Fort Worth... Ricardo Avila, owner of the long-running Avila's Mexican Restaurant on Maple Avenue, has opened Tradicion in the former Fusion space on Lemmon Avenue.
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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz

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