Rathbun Leveraged

Chef Kent Rathbun finally released a statement confirming what was reported here last week: He and former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO Bill Hyde have put their heads and resources together to acquire the Abacus and Jasper's restaurant interest from the estate of the late Robert Hoffman, Rathbun's longtime backer. The pair's move effectively dissolves 4511 Restaurant Group L.P., the firm under which the concepts were operated since its launch in 1999. The 4511 group had estimated annual sales of $4.8 million.

Hyde, a partner in Zea Woodfire Grill in Plano, recently formed Briarwood West Investments, L.L.C. to zero in on restaurant development. The Zea franchise was Briarwood West's first pluck. Rathbun and Hyde plan to expand Jasper's—with locations already in Plano, Austin and The Woodlands near Houston—as well as create other fine dining restaurant concepts. Fresh off of a five-star Abacus restaurant review in The Dallas Morning News, Rathbun's move will no doubt be propitious. Hyde is a savvy restaurant operator, credited with reanimating the stagnant Ruth's Chris, quadrupling its value before his retirement in 2003. He reportedly is still a significant stakeholder in the steakhouse. Both Hyde and Rathbun declined to comment.

After just a measly eight months cooking in the Pacific Northwest, ex-French Room chef William Koval is back in Dallas. Koval, you'll remember, left his post as corporate executive chef of Culinaire, the hospitality management company that operates Nicola's at Legacy, for a spot with Adolphus Hotel parent Noble House Hotels & Resorts to take charge of the culinary operations at the 235-room Edgewater on Seattle's Elliott Bay and its restaurant Six Seven. But Koval couldn't take the weather, or rather his family—who hadn't yet made the move—couldn't. "The family came for spring break for 14 days," he says. "It rained for 13 of them." Koval revealed this while locked in traffic, in a furious downpour, on his way to the Lakewood Country Club, where he is now executive chef...After weeks battling testy neighbors over a patio and its late-night bar business, Cretia's on McKinney is prepping for a move at the beginning of next year into the historic Luna's Tortilla Factory, which relocated earlier this year from its 83-year McKinney Avenue home on the northern edge of downtown to Harry Hines Boulevard near Regal Row. All Cretia's elements—the restaurant, the lounge and the clothing store—will be reanimated in the new space, except that now the restaurant will sell its own baked goods baked on premises.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz