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LEYE plans two new seafood concepts

CHICAGO Multiconcept operator Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises said it plans to open two seafood restaurants — one casual, the other fine dining — as replacements for two of its concepts in or near its hometown here.

An unnamed seafood restaurant featuring French chef Laurent Gras is slated to open by April in the space that formerly housed Ambria, the upscale French restaurant that LEYE closed at the end of June. LEYE chairman Richard Melman said he expects the restaurant to be as “world class” as Le Bernardin in New York

Amore casual seafood place, Reel Club, will open later this fall in the space occupied by Papagus, LEYE’s Greek concept, in suburban Oak Brook, Ill., the company said. Reel Club will be a contemporary seafood and steakhouse with an extensive wine list, Melman said, adding that the concept will be different from LEYE’s other seafood-focused concepts, Shaw’s Crab House and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab.

Gras, the chef planned for the new fine-dining place, most recently was executive chef and managing partner at Bistro du Vent in New York, following a three-year stint at Fifth Floor in San Francisco. Gras, a native of southwestern France, also has worked with chef Alain Ducasse in Paris and Monaco.

Privately held LEYE operates about 50 restaurants in five states and had estimated systemwide sales of $315 million last year.

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