One of fall's most anticipated restaurants has separated with one of its founding partners in the run-up to opening, but both the restaurant and the restaurateur promise that everything is amicable.
"We are thrilled to see The Del on your most anticipated fall openings list," the restaurant's publicist wrote in an email Tuesday. "I just wanted to clarify that Shepard Ross is no longer involved with the Studewood Hospitality Group restaurants. We parted amicably and he’s focusing his efforts on his other ventures, which includes Pax Americana."
This news came as a surprise, since Ross had always been the public face of Studewood Hospitality, which also owns Glass Wall in The Heights and Brooklyn Athletic Club in Montrose. CultureMap turned to Ross for some insight into the decision to depart from Studewood.
"I've been focusing my time on Pax Americana the last three months (and have) other, upcoming projects up my sleeve, of course," Ross writes in a message. "I'm also expanding on my company, MadCat Wine Cellars with new vintages and additional varietals which will expand into two more markets (states) this year."
Although Ross adds that he's been assisting with the transition at both Glass Wall and Brooklyn Athletic Club and supporting The Del as it prepares to open, it's clear that Pax Americana, the Montrose restaurant he opened with chef Adam Dorris in 2014 that's emerged as one of the city's most well-regarded establishments, has dominated his focus.
"Pax Americana is the most personal hospitality project I've ever undertaken, and I'm excited to go into our second year with the hope that we get better, every day. Adam Dorris, my brother from another mother, continues to inspire me, daily, with his creativity, vision and true passion for food," he writes.
Jon Wilson, a 12-year veteran of Pappas Restaurants, has assumed the role of chief operating officer for Studewood.
"The operational skills a restaurant manager builds working for the Pappas organization are second to none," Wilson said in a statement. "With that experience, I’m confident I can help elevate the quality of SHG’s operations to better mirror the award-winning cuisine chefs Jorge Rodriguez (GW) and Will Gilchriest (BAC) have been creating and serving our loyal patrons for years now."
Look for Wilson to make his mark with The Del's opening, which should be coming soon.
Although his path may have diverged from Studewood's, Ross hints that he has at least one more new restaurant up his sleeve. "Houston continues to be such a supportive community for innovative restaurants, and I will continue to develop concepts that represent the spirit of true hospitality and that offer unique dining experiences for everyone to enjoy," Ross writes.