Screeching Halt at Staccato
You may recall our recent titillating tale of an over-the-top display of public, ahem, affection ["Sex Among the Armoires," June 3] at The Brownstone [2736 Virginia, (713)520-5666]. Fellow diners seated ringside told us that a fortysomething couple celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary with coitus and oral sex, in clear view of customers, including teenage prom parties. They followed the performance with a leisurely cigarette on the restaurant's fully windowed patio.
Alas, the manager of The Brownstone, Chris Houshmand, was not available to comment on the steamy episode until after our print deadline. We tried to stop the presses to run his side of the story anyway, but a production snafu held us up. With our apologies for the delay, here, then, is the management's-eye view of the unforgettable event.
"For starters, I do not believe that infamous couple actually had sex on the patio," says Houshmand. "I simply don't think that would be practical or possible, and the valet parking attendants tell me they didn't actually 'do it.' But yes, they were kissing too hard, both inside the restaurant and outside." With a heavy sigh, he adds, "Please don't ask me to describe what I mean by kissing too hard."
Witnesses report that while inside the restaurant, the woman, sans panties, flashed nearby diners and gyrated seductively on her husband's lap. "It wasn't immediately apparent to us that she was wearing a see-through skirt until she went outside in the lights," says Houshmand defensively. Houshmand insists he stopped by the table periodically to ask the couple to sit down and cool off. "This is a romantic restaurant, where people propose marriage, go down on one knee, maybe kiss a little, or even kiss a lot," he explains. "But in the 23 years I've been here, we have never had a situation like this one. We are a fine dining establishment, not some wild bar on the Richmond Strip. These people, who were our guests, took advantage of us and our hospitality."
He later apologized in writing to diners, explaining that though The Brownstone staff is well-trained in culinary matters -- well able to assist diners who choke on their food or to say no to those who drink too much -- it lacks experience in customer lust control. "We tried to be diplomatic without being hostile," says Houshmand. "Personally, I wish I could have called the fire department to turn the hoses on them. I thought their taxi would never arrive. So I put them in a valet car, told them never to come back and sent them home myself."
Less than seven months after its lurching start, the doors of Staccato's restaurant [711 Main Street, (713)227-9141] have slammed shut. Though we thought the Italian-accented menu and attractive downtown build-out fielded by the former Dacapo's team of Leticia Guzman and Kirk Graham showed promise, others apparently failed to agree.
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"All I'll say is that we needed a new direction," says John Hamilton, the sports agent who owns the shuttered property in conjunction with his brother, Colorado Rockies outfielder Darryl Hamilton. The Guzman-Grahams are no longer a part of the ownership picture, John adds, somewhat unnecessarily.
"We're very excited at the prospect of a new partnership with Bruce Molzan and the Ruggles group," he says, confirming the rumblings we reported back in April. Molzan, we hasten to add -- also somewhat unnecessarily -- is the entrepreneurial dynamo behind both Ruggles and Ruggles Grille 5115.
Hamilton tells us that one of the Ruggles executive chefs, Andreas Becker, is slated to replace former Dacapo's chef Ricky Cruz at the stove, who replaced northern Italian chef Maurizio Gulinello, who took over from Dwayne Bosse. (Got all that?) The space formerly known as Staccato's will get a new name -- which Hamilton declined to disclose -- and will reopen for business in mid-to-late July.
-- Margaret L. Briggs