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Posted at 6:47 PM ET, 07/17/2009

Frank Morales Leaves Rustico

By Tom Sietsema

Frank Morales tells me he resigned on Wednesday from Rustico and its parent, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

"We have parted ways," confirmed Michael Babin, co-owner of the organization, who declined to go into specifics about the chef's departure. "I have tremendous respect for Frank and we appreciate everything he did at Rustico."

Morales returned the bouquet in a telephone interview: "It's a wonderful restaurant."

So why is he leaving after two years, especially with no other job lined up? "I did all that I could do" there, he says. "The good news is I'm not leaving town."

Part of Morales' role had been to help the Neighborhood Restaurant Group develop new businesses; one idea he leaves unfinished is Birch & Barley on 14th St. NW. The two-story, beer-themed restaurant and bar was originally scheduled to open last summer with Morales at its helm, but major structural issues have delayed the launch.

"It's coming, it's coming along," says Babin -- now eagerly searching for a chef to replace his former employee.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | July 17, 2009; 6:47 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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What happened to the Free and Easy events posted yesterday? I went back to double check the information and it's all gone...

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