News Article | 9/30/2005

Big-name restaurants take Dallas seriously

In Dallas and beyond, developers have recognized the significance of having high-caliber restaurants. At the same time, more big-name restaurants and restaurateurs have started to give Dallas a serious look.

“Restaurants have come a long way from just a place for the public to dine to becoming marquee players in the development,” said Dennis Leibovitz, executive vice president of Dallas-based The Retail Connection, “They are the attraction that often times bring people to the location.”

In Uptown, Fort Worth-based Crescent Realty Equities Co. (NYSE: CEI) is preparing to welcome its newest attraction, Bice Ristorante by New York-based Bice (pronunced Bee-che) Group, into The Crescent. Jack Gosnell of Dallas-based United Commercial Realty and Tony Click of Crescent brokered the deal. Gumbo’s and Oui Oui — a well-noted flop– formerly occupied the space.

The restaurant will open in mid-November, according to the Crescent.

Developers like Crescent Realty are leveraging the cachet a high-caliber restaurant brings to attract other retailers and restaurants, Leibovitz said. Having the famed New York-based restaurant, Nobu, nestled at the Hotel Crescent Court was a likely draw for Bice, he said.

Bice Group has 24 restaurants worldwide, and includes concepts Bice Ristorante, Bice Grand Cafe and Kan-Tin World Cuisine. The company has plans to open 15 Bice restaurants in 2006.

There were a number of restaurants interested in the Crescent site, which has great visibility in Uptown, said Brad Belletto of Vision 360, a hospitality design and consulting firm.

The Bice restaurant will be nearby another New York Italian concept with impressive stature, Il Mulino.

Bice and Il Mulino may go head to head in terms of cuisine, but Bice restaurant’s expansive 6,590-square-foot space should be a departure from Il Mulino’s intimate dining room, Belletto said.

Nearby the Crescent, Hillwood’s Victory Park has amassed a collection that boasts famed New York chef Tom Colicchio’s steak restaurant, Craft, and N9NE Steakhouse, as well as a clutch of local notables including Luna de Noche Gourmet Grill and Victory Tavern.

“(The restaurants) have set a tone for the district,” said Elise Mikus, vice president of leasing for Hillwood. “We felt rather than having a single rock star, we would have a personality, a collection.”

Dallas’ collection of trophy restaurants likely will continue to expand as outside restaurateurs recognize the potential for high-volume business, experts say.

“Dallas has always been recognized as a major restaurant market. Now, it’s picking up steam as far as national and international restaurants,” Belletto said.