Amie Bergess says the structure destined to be her new restaurant looks like a big skylight. She's being generous. The former Ruggeri's location on Routh Street looks more like a bombing ruin or maybe a brick Stonehenge. The roof has been shorn off. All of the walls have been ripped out except for the brick perimeter. "We're basically putting a new building inside the footprint of an old one," says Bergess. "It was a real hodgepodge in there." Inserted into the gutted space will be Perry's Restaurant, a prime beef and seafood haunt with "old-world clubby masculine comfort" and hand-scraped floors. Bergess, who is partners in Perry's with chef Travis Henderson (Canyon Café, Newport's, Café Pacific) and businessman Bill Epsing, says the restaurant will have a look somewhere between Pappas Bros. and Bob's. "We don't want to be as smoky as Bob's, but we don't want to be a slick concept like Pappas." Perry's should open sometime in September once the dust settles.
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After leaving Khanh Dao's tightly focused Asian potluck plunge known as Steel Restaurant & Lounge four weeks ago, Kent Ingram has turned up as general manager of Texas de Brazil on Cedar Springs. "I was the only manager basically," he says of his Steel time. "I was getting fried."...Blair Black, son of Phil and Janet Cobb, is now general manager of Salve! Ristorante Italiano. Occurring simultaneously was the exit of maître d' Wayne Broadwell, a move taken "to pursue other interests," according to euphemistic Salve! PR parlance...Ninety-two-year-old Ernest Gallo, the vineyard mogul who in 1933 co-founded with his brother Julio what is now the world's largest winery, was recently honored with a James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, a prize considered the "Oscar of the food industry." The E. & J. Gallo Winery (Julio was killed in a Jeep accident in 1993) has long been known for its portfolio of "affordable" wines with names such as Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Carlo Rossi, Livingston Cellars, Andre, Totts, Eden Roc, Boone's Farm, Bartles & James and the twist-top jet fuel known as Thunderbird. Yet what Gallo lacked in all of its gargantuan growth and product ubiquity was product respect. (The industry long respected--and even feared--his business genius.) So over the last several years Gallo purchased thousands of acres in California's Sonoma County and recontoured the land for optimum-quality grape propagation with a fleet of earthmoving machines purchased for pennies on the dollar from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline project. From that dirt came the highly praised Gallo Sonoma and Northern Sonoma Estate wines. Ernest Gallo got his respect. Sort of makes you want to twist off a cold T-Bird top and toast the man.