It was plain after Jeffrey Yarbrough turned in his chopsticks that noodles had gone corporate. We have the names: Big Bowl, Pei Wei, Noodles & Company. Yarbrough, who launched his Dallas groundbreaking noodle shop Liberty years ago on Lower Greenville, tried to give the concept a boost by dropkicking it into a roomier strip-mall space at Lovers Lane and Inwood Road last year. He closed it just a few months later, pledging to reinvent the space with something decidedly un-Asian. Not to be. "We have given that space back to the landlord, and we are not going in there," Yarbrough says. Three deals were in the works, he says, none of which panned out. So he's investing his time and energy into a new public relations and marketing firm, sans his former PR partner Susan Friedman, to shill lifestyle stuff--restaurants, nightclubs, retail, maybe restaurant smoking sections. He's consulting, too. Yarbrough says he's in the throes of a "very, very big...a giant name" restaurant project for which he is scouting locations. If that doesn't pan out, there's always the low-carb noodle house niche.
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In the wake of the soured deal to put a Cool River Café in the former Voltaire space, Consolidated Restaurant Operations Chairman Gene Street says his company is still scrubbing the Tollway for a place to park a Cool River cue stick. "It'll be our third attempt to get something going out there, and we are working on it fast and furiously," he says. In addition to Voltaire, Street had his eyes on the Tenaya Steak and Wild Game location in Plano, which shut down in summer 2002 after being open for just a year. (The original Tenaya in Irving, which weirdly branded itself as an American Indian steak house, shut its doors last summer.) Street says his company couldn't afford to slip a Cool River in the Tenaya location. "The economics don't work. I guess that's the best way to put it," he says. Watch for a Tollway Cool River before the end of the year...Chef Michael Marshall, who years ago started his high-profile kitchen march at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas, has made it back to that Irving offshoot, taking a dual role as executive sous chef for the Omni Mandalay Hotel and chef de cuisine at the hotel's restaurant Trevi's, "a trattoria where the wine flows and the Las Colinas sun never sets." Before his Mandalay waylay, Marshall sifted through Hotel St. Germain, the defunct Riviera and Mi Piaci... Samurai Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar, the Japanese restaurant that slipped into the space in North Dallas once inhabited by Mediterraneo, is closed, or at least the doors are locked and the phone number has been "temporarily disconnected."