Partners Brian Twomey and Mark Hearl will close Village Kitchen and Toko V after dinner service on March 29. Twomey and Hearl took one of the largest restaurant real estate gambles in recent history and lost the battle. They fought valiantly not only with money, but with creativity. After an initial high-dollar finish out of the historic space and a couple of major overhauls to the interior, they are closing their checkbooks.
The restaurant space they leased for ten years in Highland Park Village has the highest rent per square foot in town. It opened on April 27, 2011 as Marquee Grill and Bar with an all-star staff that included executive chef Tre Wilcox, mixologist Jason Kosmas, and general manager Justin Beam. After the initial buzz wore off, they changed the menu to a “more approachable list of items,” but they confused customers by switching the name to Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar on July 9, 2012. Five months later, Tre Wilcox resigned and just when we thought it was all over, Twomey and Hearl hired former Pyramid execuchef Andre Natera chef Andre Natera on January 15, 2013. Natera has worked like a crazy man to retool the menu and create a cozier, family friendly atmosphere in the downstairs space. Upstairs Hearl created Toko V, a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese influences.
Twomey and Hearl have reached an agreement with the landlord to terminate the long lease. They plan to hang on to Natera and relocate. They will continue to operate Twomey Concepts (Toko V, Village Kitchen,Common Table) and have been entertaining several other locations for months now for Toko and Village Kitchen. Ray Washburne, managing partner of Highland Park Village, says there are no firm plans for what the space will become.