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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 06/12/2009

Mio Loses Its Top Toque

By Tom Sietsema

Chef Nicholas Stefanelli and restaurateur Manuel Iguina are parting ways at Mio, both men confirmed today.

They point to the recession as the reason. According to Iguina, business at the downtown restaurant was down 50 percent in April and May. "I want to do 100 lunches a day instead of 30," he says. To that end, the restaurateur has already made his once-trendy menu more accessible, by putting on grilled chicken and chile-braised short ribs.

Stefanelli, 29, came to Mio with a strong resume (he previously cooked at the now-closed, four-star Maestro) and high hopes for offering sophisticated fare. "I'm upset," he says. "A lot of work went into it." Yet both men say the split is amicable. "I want to see Mio succeed," says the chef, who is exploring "a few good opportunities here and there."

Meantime, Iguina has recruited a few food friends to help out in the kitchen. "I'm going to take my time" hiring someone to take Stefanelli's spot, he says.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | June 12, 2009; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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