Gut Check: Restaurant-scene musical chairs (the summer edition)

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Simply Fondue

A couple of well-known local chefs are on the move. Brian Hale has left his position as executive chef of Monarch for the Chase Park Plaza. At press time, Monarch hadn't named Hale's replacement, but in a phone interview co-owner Jeff Orbin — while very careful not to drop any hints — expressed excitement about the direction the restaurant will be taking.

Orbin did confirm that Monarch has brought on Matt McGuire, of the late King Louie's, as general manager. Orbin explained that in that position, given his culinary background, McGuire will be able to bring the front and the back of the house closer together.

Orbin also confirmed that, as of last week, he and co-owner Aaron Teitelbaum were closing in on a deal to take over the shuttered Balaban's space in the Central West End and reopen it as...Balaban's.

"We're bringing Balaban's back," he told me. More details on that surely to follow.

Speaking of Balaban's: Andy White, who led the kitchen when Brendan Marsden relaunched the Central West End institution early last year, has left his position as executive chef at the south-city bistro Off the Vine. White, who has also worked at Harvest and the late Café Campagnard, had been with Off the Vine since its opening at the beginning of this year.

Simply Fondue has closed. The loft district restaurant — a franchise in a small, Dallas-based chain — opened in June of last year. A message on the Simply Fondue website states, "We'd like to thank our customers for their support and patronage. We regret to say that we have closed permanently. We've enjoyed being a part of the downtown area and hope that the area continues to grow."

Simply Fondue's closing reduces to 24 the number of restaurants participating in Downtown Restaurant Week next week. If you haven't made reservations yet, consider this your reminder: Spots for the $25 three-course meals fill up quickly. You can learn more about the event — and peruse menus — at

Are you opening a new restaurant? Know of a place that has closed? Something else for Ian to chew on? E-mail [email protected]

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