Last Call: Wednesday, June 15, 2005
450 Throckmorton St, FW. 817-870-8885.

Randallís Cheesecake Factory
907 Houston St, FW.
Morning Person

Itís no big secret that Zolon Wilkins IIIís trifecta of downtown restaurants ó Zolon, ZoŽ, and Angeluna ó hasnít been doing as well as it should be. A couple of months ago, when his father, Zolon Wilkins II (a.k.a. Junior), stepped in and took over the two-year-old venture, Last Call got half-excited, thinking maybe the well-respected Łber-pro would concentrate his business smarts and experience on turning around the mini-empire.


People are still bitching about the inconsistent service and stagnant menu, but pthhh! Last Call could cry the same tears over nearly every other top-notch eatery in town. The ax that yours truly wants to grind is much bigger ó hours of operation at ZoŽ.

For reasons no one understands, the Italian eatery choked back its schedule a few months ago to 11am-2pm for lunch, and, for dinner, 5-9pm Monday through Wednesday and 5-11pm Thursday through Saturday.

With one outrageously sexy dining room ó huge windows everywhere and cool vibes all around ó ZoŽ qualifies as a potential late-night hot spot by virtue of its dťcor alone. Staff the bar with gorgeous people and keep it open a few hours later, and you got yourself one heckuva party palace (easily one of the hottest in the city, in my opinion). Not too long ago, Planet Zolon execs were even kicking around the idea of transforming ZoŽ into something disco-ish (ďZoŽ Facelift,Ē Aug. 4, 2004). Yeah, didnít happen ó and now with Junior in charge, you can forget all about it. Heís already made clear his plans to go after another, certainly less-hip demographic. Can you say ďbrunch bunchĒ?

Planet Zolon flack Cristy Tongate announced last week that Junior is dumping $35,000 into a 7-10am daily concept at ZoŽ in which coffee and breakfast pastries will be served, and wireless internet access and a 42-inch plasma tv will be made available for vegging out. A Sunday brunch plan is also in the works. (Cross those fingers!) ďCafť Z GrindĒ is scheduled to get rolling next month.

But there is somebody downtown whoís probably glad to see ZoŽ take itself out of the wide-open late-night downtown market. Randallís Cheesecake Factory owner Jarrett Joslin used to keep the loft of his restaurant open late six nights a week, but he cut back about a year ago, once he began spending the majority of his time trying to get his rock club, Axis, up and running.

Now that the South Side venue is just about self-sufficient, Joslin wants to return to cultivating the downtown scene ó and staying open a little later.

No longer relegated to the loft, the party will take place throughout the entire building. In addition to the already brutalist-cool dťcor, Randallís is bringing in DJís (courtesy of Dallasí R-Type Records) and constructing a late-night tapas menu (calamari, bruschetta, escargot, etc.).

ďWeíve been a place for the service industry to come after work for so long, thereís definitely room for more than that,Ē Joslin said.

Come to think of it, maybe Junior is onto something: Partiers from Randallís are gonna need some caffeine on their ways out in the mornings.

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