David Banks, executive chef at Harry’s Seafood Grill, has purchased the riverfront restaurant from his Harry’s Hospitality Group partner Xavier Teixido. The price was not disclosed.
Banks sold his shares in Kid Shelleen’s at 1801 W. 14th Street back to Harry’s Group principals Teixido and Kelly O’ Hanlon for an undisclosed sum.
They began talking about a possible sale in June.
“It was a natural succession and a very amicable transition,” Banks said. “Xavier and I have been working together for the better part of 30 years, and it’s been a great relationship. The timing is good for this. This is my opportunity to be sole owner of a great restaurant.”
“We’ve all worked together for 20-plus years, so it was just a natural succession and it was good timing for everyone,” O’Hanlon said. “It was just a really amicable transition.”
Teixido called the sale an opportunity to simplify his life a little bit and provide a little bit for his future. It will allow the group to reinvest in its other venues, he said.
“Dave’s dream – every chef’s dream – is to have his or her own place. This was a good opportunity for Dave to grow his business exactly the way he wants to,” Teixido said. “The restaurant is really iconic. It’s the best location on the riverfront, if you ask me. It’s a beautiful space. It’s got a great staff, and Dave’s a very talented chef. I think they’ll do extremely well there for a very long time.”
Banks and Teixido gave the go-ahead for the riverside restaurant the week after 9/11. “A lot of people were thinking, ‘Wow. The riverfront’s a pretty risky place to be,” Teixido said.
Another large restaurant had just closed. The exhibition hall that served as the Riverfront’s centerpiece had been shuttered. AIG had dropped out of a building project across the river.
Teixido said the News Journal had published a piece blasting then Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) Director Mike Purzycki and Buccini Pollin V.P. Mike Hare: “Three Strikes and You’re Out. Mike and Mike Must Go. “
The Riverfront went on to grow with attorney’s offices, doctor’s offices, an IMAX theater and entertainment and dining options, and Purzycki went on to the mayor’s office.
“The RDC did a great job of continuing to develop that part of the city as a very vibrant and robust area,” Banks said. “Now-Mayor Mike Purzycki had a great vision for the RDC, and we are happy to be part of it. The restaurant scene is pretty good here. There are good players. The economy’s fairly strong. I’ve seen a lot of good changes.”
Banks said he has no plans for immediate changes at Harry’s Seafood.
Teixido said he and partner Kelly O’Hanlon will now focus on Shelleen’s and on Harry’s Savoy Grill and Harry’s Savoy Ballroom on Naaman’s Road. “We will strategize on what the next phase of our ballroom will be,” he said. “Evolution is always part of our process. There’s a time when you need to evolve and there’s a time when you need to do sort of a hard reset..”
He said he has no immediate plans to open additional restaurants. “We will look at opportunities in the future as they become available,” he said. “but we have no plans as of today.”
Teixido said he believes the future is in casual community-based dining like Shelleen’s: “For today’s world, it’s the Kid Shelleen’s type of restaurant. It has good food. It’s friendly. It’s accessible and available to all age groups.”