One of Dallas' most acclaimed and long-standing fine-dining restaurants is pulling the plug. According to a release, Abacus Jasper's Restaurant Group will close the original Abacus in the Knox District on June 1, as the company plans for a new concept that will open later this summer.
For nearly 20 years, Abacus has led Dallas’ fine dining scene with culinary imagination, hospitality, and a
philanthropic heart charitable spirit. The restaurant was founded in 1999 by chef Kent Rathbun with original partner Robert Hoffman as Rathbun's first independent venture, following tenures at the Mansion on Turtle Creek and the Landmark at the Dallas Melrose Hotel.
Abacus was a cutting-edge combination of Rathbun's fine-dining background and his interest in Asian cuisine, best embodied in his trademark lobster shooters, with a soft wonton dumpling filled with lobster meat, topped with red-chili coconut broth, and served in a sake cup.
Abacus also served as a platform for many great chefs under Rathbun's employ including Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox, Aaron Staudenmaier, and pastry chef Rick Griggs; and for great art, with pieces from Hoffman's personal collection, as well as pieces by artists who also worked there as servers such as Tamara White.
Between its food, sexy decor, and its fun and lively bar, Abacus ruled every top-10 restaurant list in Dallas for many years.
After Hoffman died in 2006, Bill Hyde, who previously worked with Ruth's Chris Steak House, took over. He and Rathbun formed a company in 2009 called Kent Rathbun Concepts, which at one point included six restaurants, including Abacus, Hickory in Plano, and four branches of Jasper's, in Plano, Richardson, Austin, and the Woodlands.
The Austin location of Jasper's closed in 2016, and the Plano location closed in 2018.
Rathbun resigned from the company in 2016, then became embroiled in a lengthy legal battle over the use of his name. He won that right in November 2017.
Chef Christopher Patrick took the helm at Abacus following Rathbun's departure. Patrick left the company in spring 2019 to join Vandelay Hospitality Group, creators of East Hampton Sandwich Co. and Hudson House.
Hyde says that the decision to retire the Abacus brand is based on "changing times and palates which require us to prepare for the next decades of dining."
"I can assure you we will continue to pursue the same attention to detail and service aspects of your dining experience that established our well-earned industry reputation, and more importantly, will usher us into the future," Hyde says. "Come join us through the end of May to toast Abacus one final time."