Robert Thompson, who owns Argyll, which just closed in Cherry Creek (but will reopen in 2012 in the Baker 'hood) and the soon-to-be-open Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, which has taken over the former Baur's space downtown and Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink, slated to open in November, also in the Baker District, doesn't derive any happiness from the staff walk-out that ensued at TAG a few weeks ago, but he couldn't be happier about what it means for him.
Late last week, Thompson hired James Lee, the former beverage director at TAG (and, before that, Dave Query's Big Red F restaurant group) and Michael Pacovsky, the current GM (but nor for much longer) of TAG -- and both will keep their respective titles as part of Thompson's growing restaurant kingdom. "I'm really, really stoked about this," says Thompson. "I've got this young, extraordinarily talented and highly ambitious group of managers -- including my chef Sergio Romero -- that's as excited as I am about our growth and potential opportunities, and I couldn't ask for a better team."
Pacovsky, who will remain at TAG to train his replacement -- a gesture that Thompson says is both "professional and ethical" -- will be the GM of Le Grande, slated to open in late August, while Lee will be the brains behind the bar at Le Grande -- at least until he can open his own restaurant. "There's a clear business sophistication behind James's approach to beverage direction, and he's much more concerned about executing a winning cocktail program than winning a cocktail competition, and while he ultimately wants his own place, we're very lucky that he's signed on with us while he explores other opportunities for himself and his family," explains Thompson, adding that Lee will be slinging drinks at Le Grande five nights a week.
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As for Pacovsky, who spent nine years as the food & beverage director at the Four Seasons in Phoenix and British Columbia, Canada, before joining the crew at TAG, Thompson insists he's the consummate general manager. "Mike could have just walked -- several TAG employees did -- but as a GM, you don't just abandon your ownership, and you don't walk out the door with zero notice. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike, because he stuck it out -- that made me want to hire him even more," says Thompson.
Pacocsky will join Thompson, Lee and the rest of the staff in earnest on August 9. "He's going to take a few days off, and then I'm going to work the shit out of him," jokes Thompson, who says that he's on pace to open Le Grand on August 29.