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September 15, 2022

Hartford's The Place 2 Be restaurant to open Dallas location

The Place 2 Be Maurice “Mo” Major, assistant culinary director for The Statement Group, CEO Gina Luari and Culinary Director Xavier Santiago.

Six years after Gina Luari opened her The Place 2 Be restaurant in the South End of Hartford, the 30-year-old budding restaurant magnate has four locations, with more on the way — including a newly announced venue in a bustling part of Dallas.

The nearly 7,000-square-foot Dallas venue will be across from American Airlines Arena, home to the Dallas Mavericks, amid a thriving mix of shopping, offices and housing.

“Post-Covid, so many people moved to Dallas, every restaurant, no matter where you went, was packed,” Luari said.

Luari said she believes the Place 2 Be can ultimately expand to dozens of locations. Dallas, a busy metro area with lots of competition, will be a good proving ground, she said.

Luari was only 24 when she opened her first Place 2 Be, a breakfast-all-day spot known for its fun, social media-friendly, décor and atmosphere, overflowing drinks and stylish food presentation. She subsequently opened a downtown Hartford location, one in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square and a fourth at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Luari expects to open a fifth location near Yale University in New Haven this fall. She has a sixth Place 2 Be location in Connecticut in the works but doesn’t want to reveal the location until negotiations are finalized. If it pans out, this location, along with Dallas, will make seven Place 2 Be locations for Luari.

Luari is also advancing plans for a restaurant featuring South and Central American cuisine, a pizza restaurant and a raw seafood bar in Hartford under different brands.

The entire venture falls under the umbrella of Luari’s recently formed company, “The Statement Group.”

Luari has a talented bench of supporters and top staff. Culinary Director Xavier Santiago and Assistant Culinary Director Maurice “Mo” Major were both featured on the Food Network’s “Chopped” show. 

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