Sleeps with the Fishes

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Soprano's, that "AmerItalian" restaurant that Bruce Kaminski opened in February 2000 in Frisco in the former Gulf Coast Seafood & Steaks space with the help of galloping chef Marc Haines (of Fish, Cuba Libre, Sipango, North-South, etc.), was locked up April 24. Kaminski, owner of Longshots sports bar in Addison, says myriad forces squeezed him. "I was one of the first of maybe four restaurants in that area," he says. Now there is a legion of restaurants within a half-mile radius of Soprano's, including T.G.I. Friday's, Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Tin Star and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Complicating the success of his spaghetti slinger was construction on Preston Road that dragged on until August in the critical months Kaminski was trying to get his footing. But it was the restaurants moving into the new Stonebriar Centre that extinguished his crippled cash flow. "The share of the market wasn't there at that time," he says. "I wanted to establish a name and get set to weather the storm [until] the growth got here. But on the other hand, I didn't realize [restaurants] would come in as fast as they came in." Kaminski frantically tried to scare up partners to keep it afloat. Among the potential partners he flirted with were the Campisi family and folks from Terilli's, Kaminski says. But it was too late. Kaminski was locked out owing some $45,000 in back taxes and overdue rent. "It was a costly lesson," he laments. "It's been an uphill battle from day one." What's next for Kaminski? He says he's shucking the restaurant business for, of all things, developing and selling low- to moderate-income housing.

Imported from Austin and owned by Corey Urbach, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar is poised to open Friday, May 15 next to the Addison Improv. The piano bar will not only feature "top entertainment spanning from coast to coast," it will also have a light menu...Citizen, the restaurant owned by the M Crowd Restaurant Group, has shut down its lunch service because of parking-lot construction in front of the restaurant. "It's killing us," says an M Crowd source, who adds that lunch will return in some three weeks...Gaspar Stantic, the restaurateur who launched Gaspar's Café in Coppell and currently owns the River Café in Las Colinas, has been tapped as executive chef/partner of Jimmy Lu's Asian Bistro in the northern reaches of Dallas off the Tollway. Also joining Jimmy Lu's as general manager is Steve Occhipinti, who has sauntered through Fish, Pappas Bros., Lombardi Mare and Texas de Brazil among others over the past couple of years.

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