Longtime restaurant frontman Michael Don Rico is no longer at the door of Branzino, according to co-owner Peter Lamb (photo).
Don Rico, who had a minority ownership position with Branzino, was a familiar figure around Belltown, having occupied highly visible spots at El Gaucho, the defunct Axis and Il Bistro before joining Lamb and Wei Fu in the neighborhood Italian operation at the corner of Second and Wall.
It's a rule of thumb in the restaurant industry that you can't be sure who really owns the joint, who's really in charge, but Wei Fu hasn't been seen for a while, and veteran restaurant operator Darren Pitt (of Pritty Boys Pizza in Madrona) is currently Lamb's business partner and seems to be calling the shots. At least he's said to be the one who pushed Don Rico out.
Branzino GM Tanya Lutzenheiser is taking over the maitre d' duties, and Don Rico is said to be looking at restaurant properties on Capitol Hill.
· All Coverage of Branzino [~ESEA~]
Photo by Ronald Holden