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Posted at 4:57 PM ET, 02/23/2010

Michael Landrum taps Frank Morales to raise Ray's

By Tom Sietsema

As he expands his Ray's restaurant brand, best known for its bargain burgers and steaks, Michael Landrum is also beefing up his team.Today he announced that Frank Morales, the short-lived chef at Jackie's in Silver Spring (and before that, Rustico in Alexandria and Zola in Washington) would start working with him on March 1.

Morales, soon to be 43, will assume a whopper of a title: Chef and Director of Culinary Operations for the Ray's family of restaurants.

"His role will be to take the quality and value that we strive for at Ray's and to elevate great, classic, straightforward American cooking to a whole other level of excellence as we branch out into new neighborhoods and new formats," Landrum wrote in an e-mail.

While the new hire will be involved to some degree in every establishment, Morales will focus on Rays: The Glass, the grape-themed venue dear to the collection's wine director, Mark Slater, and Ray's: The Catch, which Landrum envisions as "a simple, direct, breathtakingly fresh American seafood grill."

Morales, who has made no secret of wanting to open a place of his own, says he was attracted to the job by the "winning formula" at Ray's. (He's no stranger to steaks, either, having opened Angelo & Maxie's in New York in the late '90s.) Among the changes he says he hopes to make for Ray's: more staff training, more sauce work and more emphasis on seasonal ingredients.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | February 23, 2010; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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I don't know about calling them "bargain burgers." Unless you are comparing them to the $16 ones at Central Michel Richard.

Posted by: LaShanta | February 23, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

$7 for a 10-oz. prime burger ground fresh daily, with a huge list of free toppings, is a bargain burger.

Posted by: dkorn | February 23, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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