To launch his next food, beverage and titillation projects, Sipango operator Ron Corcoron is bonding with a pair of new Dallas characters: Eric Kimmel, founder of The Joint restaurant, one-time publisher of defunct Ouch magazine and rag-picking clothing designer; and Sipango bartender Smokey Hill, a man Corcoron says can do Tom Cruise Cocktail acrobatics without stunt doubles. With Kimmel, Corcoron plans to open a hybrid eclectic deli and boutique called Rich Hippie Clothing and Café on Swiss and Hall. With Hill, Corcoron will launch a restaurant and bar called Daxx in the Lower Greenville space that was once the tapas bar Barcelona before it almost turned into a club called Medusa. He says the Daxx menu will be of the Tex-Mex ilk, with fried calamari and pomme frites thrown in for extra lubrication. Not surprisingly, Corcoron seems to understand his Lower Greenville clientele with uncanny precision. "We've probably got the greatest patio on all of Greenville Avenue," he boasts. "You actually have to go outside onto the patio to go to the rest room."
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George Howald, one-time wine director at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and former general manager of City Café, is grabbing the wine reins at H.E. Butt's Central Market in Dallas. As the store's wine manager, Howald will juggle a wine stash that sports 2,800 labels. "We intend to have a wine set that will exceed most people's expectations about what a grocery store would carry winewise," he says. Howald joins former Lola chef Jamie Samford and one-time Crescent Club chef Helen Duran at the Dallas store, which should open the latter part of July...Bay Leaf owner Ronnie Crayton is having a hard time keeping a chef nailed down in his kitchen, which specializes in French-Asian hybridizations. Josh Hopkins, the chef who replaced Executive Chef Tim Penn a few short weeks ago, is out. "I'm not asking them to come in and be a laborer," Crayton says of his finicky chefs. "I need a golf buddy. I mean, come in here, give me a great menu and let's go play golf." But it looks as if Crayton is going to have to put away his nine iron and whip out a set of Ginsu knives, because he doesn't plan on hiring a new chef anytime soon. "I'm pretty much running the kitchen," he admits...Former Sfuzzi and Lombardi Mare general manager Mitch Kauffman is out on his own, stitching up plans to open Urbano, a little nibble unit he calls a panino teca, as it specializes in panini sandwiches. Tucked in the former Celebrity Café space on Fairmont, Kauffman says the counter-service restaurant should be up and running the first part of June serving breakfast, lunch and eventually dinner, with beer and wine to chase the paninis.