Mambo Jumbo

There once was a place in Fort Worth's Sundance Square called Ellington's Southern Table. It wasn't long after the place opened and it was mercilessly skewered by the reviewers (not us...we pricked it politely) that it became Ellington's Chop House. After that, the name was edited down to Chop House, maybe in honor of what it wanted to do to those nasty reviewers. In the process of shifting those aliases, much of the staff was sloughed off, including managing partner Brent Johnson, who was linked in the restaurant with the M Crowd Restaurant Group (Mi Cocina, Citizen, The Mercury, etc.). Now Johnson, who was bought out by the M Crowd last March, is launching a new venture in Fort Worth's City View Center. Lodged in a former Colonial Cafeteria, Johnson's Rio Mambo y Mas is a Tex-Mex fling with a steaks and grilled seafood fringe to distinguish it from your average Tex-Mex glop. Johnson calls it Tex-Mex with a twist. Yet twisted Tex-Mex looks the same as the untwisted kind. Maybe the distinguishing features will be revealed when the Cowtown spot opens September 11.

Tim Penn, the one-time executive chef at Il Sole, has been rocking the grates at Salve! since last Easter weekend. He says he came on board there to help out on a temporary basis. But his temp stint is about to end this coming Friday, after which he'll take a position doing something for someone the details of which he can't reveal. He confesses this new gig is still food-related and in Dallas. "It's not in an end of the business I've been in," he says...Where is he this time? Maybe the more relevant question is What is he this time? He's a business development representative for Sysco Food Service, which means he consults with Sysco clients who don't have the benefit of an in-house chef or radio personality and helps them with food and kitchen development. "It's like doing a different consulting job every day," says one-time chef Marc Haines, who consulted with Shannon Wynne's 8.0 in Fort Worth after he was a chef at the defunct Fish, after he was a chef at Cuba Libre, after he helped open the defunct Soprano's, after he tried to launch a failed time-share personal chef service called Net*Chef. "For anyone that's ever accused me of having ADD, or wandering attention span, or short-timers disease, this is pretty much the perfect job for me," he says. Yeah, but do the fringe benefits include the perfect Ritalin dose?

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz