Ritzy Flitz

I've been to the Ritz. The Ritz was a hangout of mine. And diner, you're no...So Ritzy's is back. You remember Ritzy's, don't you? Of course you don't. It's been wounded and moaning for more than a decade (and it's horses they shoot?). But in the early 1980s, back when Duran Duran was on the hunt, Ritzy's was hot, an upscale diner serving hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and house-made ice cream. Now the new millennium version has landed at Grapevine Mills, and it's primed to spread like a ketchup leak.

Founded in 1980 by Graydon Webb, a former Wendy's International exec, Ritzy's went public in 1982 and over the next four years grew to 100 restaurants in 17 states. Then Webb sold out to a group of Cincinnati investors. The concept foundered. "They just let Ritzy's somewhat atrophy over the next eight or 10 years, and it dwindled down to seven locations," he says. Why'd it sag? Webb says 1980s consumers shirked his gourmet speed meals and went for value--99-cent taco feeds and their ilk.

Now, Webb and his group of Dallas investors, who snapped up the rights to Ritzy's, believe the hungry are ready to scurry up to the next rung. Ritzy's will seep into Frisco, Lewisville, Weatherly, Richardson and Lemmon Avenue in Dallas before spreading to San Antonio and Austin. "We do a lot of handcrafting," Webb says. "We try and just take conventional Middle American foods and take them to the highest level we can." This means house-cut fries; house-made ice creams, gelatos and Italian ices; certified-natural Angus beef hamburgers; and natural-casing all-beef hot dogs, which are much better than wieners with latex.

George Mason University Law Professor Todd J. Zywicki has posted Wine Wars online (search for it by title at http://papers.ssrn.com), a paper exploring the constitutionality of state bans on direct interstate wine shipments to consumers. The Supreme Court will grapple with the issue this term. Wine Wars is deep, comprehensive and contains some rough adult language like "commercial intercourse" and "pro tanto." So download, read, commence to shipping and drink this: Rancho Zabaco (a Gallo imprint) 2003 Sonoma Coast Reserve Pinot Gris. It reeks of honeydew, no doubt in part from the tiny spritz of Viognier (0.5 percent) that's in there. But it's clean and crisp. Sure, a little oak is used for ghostly spice impressions, but it doesn't flog your mouth with a charred timber like some chardonnays ($18)... And this: The 2000 Concannon Reserve Petite Syrah is an inky-purple drink packed with black cherry, plum and ripe berries. Squint your tongue and you may even pick up mint, flint and a few smoke rings. Plus, it'll stand up to any mammal you herd it with ($24).

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