Dacapo's School for Success"
If you want to be a success in the Houston restaurant business," Leticia Guzman once said jokingly, "just come work for Dacapo's." Of course, her Allen Parkway eatery no longer suffers high turnover: Dacapo's is now closed, and Guzman and husband, Kirk Graham, have graduated to Staccato's downtown. But the alumni tradition continues. Last week, two more former Dacapo-ites hung out their own shingle, this time at Sonoma [1415 California, (713)522-7066].Patrick Zone and partner/chef Kirk DeLoach formally opened on February 11, dishing up "simple" New American cuisine. "The space is deceptive," says Zone, of the upper story of the old, yellow building. "It's much bigger inside than it looks from the outside. One of my friends calls it 'the secret squirrel place.' " A stage overlooks the main dining area; "nonintrusive" jazz is slated to begin in March.

Undertow in the Aquarium
Executive chef Louis Cressy has backstroked away from the Aquarium's stove less than three months after the grand opening of that restaurant, Tilman Fertitta's crown jewel on the Boardwalk at Kemah [402 Second St., (281)334-9010]. Insiders hint that Cressy hoped for a kinder, gentler kitchen experience than grinding out 1,200 meals per day at the Aquarium. Cressy resurfaced last week at a Montrose catering outfit, A Fare Extraordinaire [2035 Marshall, (713)527-8288], a gig he hopes will offer a little more flexibility. "I have two small children," he explains, "so those 90-hour weeks were hard on my family." Cressy, an accomplished guitarist, is also putting the finishing touches on an as-yet-untitled CD of tunes recorded in his home studio.

Anthonie Dekker, who joined Team Tilman last June and was on board for the Aquarium's opening, has replaced Cressy as executive chef. Dekker, understandably nervous about talking to a reporter without permission from the notoriously tightlipped corporate office, would say only that yes, it's an enormous job but one he's worked toward his whole career and that he is "obsessed with food and quality."

Boss Fertitta, meanwhile, is busy cranking out another Cadillac Bar clone. Fertitta closed his Landry's Oyster Bar on the Galveston Seawall [1502 Seawall Blvd., (409)762-4261] two weeks ago to reoutfit the location as another Cadillac. Fertitta bought the original North Shepherd cantina last spring, you may recall, and promptly reproduced it as part of his 14-acre "eatertainment" complex at Kemah. Look for the new Caddy's doors to open sometime in March, just in time for the annual surge of spring breakers.

-- Margaret L. Briggs


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