Just before leaving for Pomona and the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition this afternoon I had a brief chat with Kurt Spataro, executive chef of Paragary's Restaurant Group. I was trying to confirm speculation that his eponymous downtown restaurant may be about to change hands. When you write of restaurants in today's precarious economic environment that's what you do with a bit of your daily work time - chase down rumors about this acquisition and that closure.
In short, Spataro Restaurant & Bar still is a member of Paragary's Restaurant Group, said Spataro, with no change in ownership anticipated. About three or four months ago, however, representatives of OSI Restaurant Partners in Tampa approached Spataro and business partner Randy Paragary to talk about possibly taking over Spataro for a branch of Roy's, their Hawaiian fusion concept started 20 years ago in Honolulu by Roy Yamaguchi. OSI also owns Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, a branch of which is planned for the old Firestone building being renovated just up L Street from Spataro. Part of the OSI philosophy, said Spataro, is to put a branch of Roy's in the same general vicinity as a Fleming's, thus the company's interest in Spataro. "We listened, but it didn't work out for them," says Spataro. "They cooled on this market."
While no change looks to be imminent for Spataro, Spataro did remind me of a long-enduring principle of the restaurant business: For the right price, just about any place can change hands. "As owners, you listen to anything," says Spataro.