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New York
Chef Gray Kunz is no longer involved in namesake restaurant Grayz, and has likely been out of the picture for some time. Owner Stephen Distler plans to close the restaurant at the end of the month, and reopen later as Gneiss. Grayz Executive Chef Martin Brock will continue at Gneiss once the paradigm shifts. Chef Kunz is looking into opening a Cafe Gray in Asia, and is exploring the possibility of opening more restaurants in Manhattan.
Craig Hopson is now executive chef at Le Cirque, after a year-long sojourn at One If By Land, Two If By Sea. Hopson, a 2007 New York Rising Star, is replacing Christophe Bellanca at the high-profile French restaurant.
Chef-partner Gabriel Thompson is opening L'Artusi, the larger sibling of his West Village Italian gem Dell'anima. Though larger in dining room and menu range, Thompson will still focus on local produce, changing his menu with the seasons. Partner Joe Campanale fortifies his mostly-Italian wine list with artisan Champagnes and local New York wines.
Shang, Susur Lee's new Chinese fusion restaurant opens in the Thompson LES hotel. A Hong Kong native and longtime Toronto resident(Lee founded three restaurants in Toronto), Lee has formed his first New York restaurant around the concept of adaptation, specifically how Chinese emigrants adapt their traditional foods to encompass the ingredients and techniques of their adopted countries. The menu is still undergoing final edits and reworking, and the dishes are hearty, clever, and meant to be shared.
David Burke kicks off the last month of 2008 with the opening of his new restaurant, Fishtail. Sustainavores take note: Burke's ultimate goal is to run a completely sustainable seafood restaurant, and is serving wild salmon, farmed tuna, and harpoon-caught swordfish.
New York Rising Star mixologist Somer Perez is leaving her post at the Royalton this month. Perez is broadening her horizons and business savvy with a solo career in mixology and cocktail consulting.
At a capacity of 556 over three levels, Del Frisco's Double Eagle holds the distinction of being the biggest steakhouse in the City of Brotherly Love. Chef John Stritzinger's solid steakhouse menu lets this chain behemoth hold its head high and draw visitors into the historic Packard building.
Raju Bhattarai is the chef/owner of Philadelphia's tiny new Indian restaurant, Ekta. As former executive chef at Indian mainstay Tiffin, he has a deft hand with spice and a deep understanding of the balance between creamy and cool and acidic and hot flavors.
Randy Zweiban has opened his new South-American-influenced restaurant, Province. Showing environmental as well as cultural awareness, Zweiban's new venture features local meats, organic wines, sustainable seafood, and green building materials.
The Sofitel Chicago Water Tower recently hired Martial Noguier, formerly of one sixtyblue, as the new Executive Chef and to oversee Cafe des Architectes. Also making the move to Sofitel is one sixtyblue pastry chef, Suzanne Imaz.
Gainsbourg, which took over the Northside Grill space on Greenwood Avenue, has opened with a solid wine and spirits list and a sumptuous spread of small plates. Named for the legendary French crooner Serge Gainsbourg, the new lounge exudes an appropriately sexy je ne sais quoi.
Chef Jeremy Lieb is leaving Trois for personal reasons, and will be replaced by TAP executive chef Todd Ginsberg. Lieb is reported to be moving back to Cincinnati to be closer to his family, though there's no word yet on whether or where he'll be cooking there. As Ginsberg extends his reach to Trois, he'll a hand on the reins at TAP.
Flip, the boutique burger concept from chef Richard Blais (a Top Chef runner-up) and owner Barry Mills is set to open in the first week of December. The burgers will feature flavorful beef and lamb, housemade condiments and buns, and there will be a line of quirky milkshakes, in such exotic flavors as Krispy Kreme doughnut.
San Francisco
Copia, the Napa wine, food, and arts center that closed its doors unexpectedly in November plans to reopen on the first of December. Despite debt and layoffs, CEO and president Garry McGuire remains committed to keeping Copia afloat.
Jojo Restaurant will close on the last day of the 2008, right after celebrating its ninth anniversary this December. Mary Jo Thoresen, Curt Clingman and staff will offer one last cassoulet and wine dinner on New Year's Eve. After closing the restaurant, the Jojo team will shift into event planning.
Jeff Osaka, former owner of Chole in Los Angeles, heads for the hills to open his new venture, Twelve Restaurant, in Denver.
The Aspen Grill and Bar in Evergreen, Colorado recently hired Randy Hickey as Executive Chef. He has most recently been working the stoves at Kevin Taylor's in Denver. With stints at Arrow's Restaurant and MC Perkin's Cove he will be trying to bring a little seaside to the mountains.

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