Annual Sales: $5.5 million projected 2014 sales
Key Personnel: Richard and Tiffanee Ellman, founders and managing partners Jet Tila, partner and executive chef at Pakpao
• Oak (modern, refined American cuisine)
• Pakpao (Thai)
• Belly & Trumpet (Global)
WHY IT’S COOL: Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to get things right. Despite not owning any restaurants or having professional cooking experience, Richard and Tiffanee Ellman’s worldly escapades—Richard has been to more than 70 countries—opened their eyes to international cuisine. The two often talked casually about how cool it would be to someday open a restaurant and were smart enough to know the Dallas dining scene was missing something. One day Richard came home from his everyday gig with a piece of paper to show Tiffanee--it was a lease to a vacant building in the Design District. It was there where the Ellman’s first concept, Oak, opened in December 2011, serving Mediterranean dishes with an Austrian accent. While Dallas is known for meat and potatoes, the deviation worked and Oak was lauded by local critics. Apheleia restaurants provide global, eclectic menus that blend different countries together for a more worldly look at cuisine. The Ellmans have parlayed their success into two other Dallas-area restaurants—Pakpao in Plano and Preston Hollow in North Dallas. Their approach was to hire top kitchen talent, as evidenced by Pakpao, where they partnered with Iron Chef Jet Tila to bring an upscale Asian dining experience.