Circo Texas in the One Uptown building on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 in Dallas. (Shaban Athuman/ The Dallas Morning News) ORG XMIT: 20041580A

Circo Texas in the One Uptown building on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 in Dallas. (Shaban Athuman/ The Dallas Morning News) ORG XMIT: 20041580A

Shaban Athuman/Staff Photographer

Circo TX, a $7 million Italian restaurant in a flashy building on McKinney Avenue in Dallas, has closed. 

Lauren Santagati, CEO of the hospitality group that operates the restaurant, says the Circo is still negotiating. But Carlo Mantica, the New York-based CEO of Le Cirque International — the company that represents the brand and licensed Circo to Santagati — says the restaurant is shuttered, at least for now.

"We're not too happy about the overall situation there," he says.

The explanations differ. According to Santagati, the restaurant is closed while she and the One Uptown apartment building negotiate what went wrong. According to Mantica, the restaurant is closed but might reopen in that location or elsewhere in Dallas within 6 to 12 months, with or without Santagati. According to the Observer, Circo is closed, full stop, after it blasted through four executive chefs in 10 months, paid unnamed employees in cash and unofficially became "Dallas' biggest restaurant disaster."

Glitzy is an understatement at Dallas restaurant Circo, which has 2 resort-style pools

The Dallas Morning News had not reviewed the restaurant by its closing date.

In an interview before it opened in September 2018, Santagati called the restaurant "a circus." She meant it in a good way, as if the restaurant would be larger than life. The restaurant is a licensed offshoot of Le Cirque, the famed Sirio Maccioni restaurant in New York City, and the restaurant's walls were adorned with letters from celebrities like Barbara Walters and Ronald Reagan.

But the circus started on Day One, when the opening executive chef quit, the Observer reports. The story tells of "bounced paychecks for the entire staff," among other things.

Circo was a see-and-be-seen Italian restaurant. That identity became more real with Circo Beach, the restaurant's second-floor resort with two exclusive pools, cabanas, bars and a networking space for paying members. Santagati wanted it to feel glamorous.

Noise was a problem, Santagati says. Data from Dallas 311 Service Request logs show at least five noise complaints against 2619 McKinney Ave., where Circo and Circo Beach are located, between January and May 2019.

When women went into the restroom at Circo, they were given a free glass of Champagne.

When women went into the restroom at Circo, they were given a free glass of Champagne.

Shaban Athuman/Staff Photographer

Santagati says that she tried to get a retractable roof installed above Circo Beach to block the noise, but that it didn't come to fruition. In response to the rowdy pool crowds, Santagati says that renters at One Uptown would "throw stuff over their balconies" onto Circo patrons below — glass bottles, animal waste, urine and raw eggs. We've asked for full records from the city and the police department to get more information.

"It happened at parties, [and] it happened during regular hours when we would have Saturday or Sunday parties," Santagati says. "When the glass bottles were thrown over the balconies, it became a really big liability, and we chose not to operate that way."

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A representative at One Uptown didn't return requests for comment about the closure of Circo.

Mantica calls the situation "unfortunate." They'll have to do some work on the brand, which he agrees might have been tarnished in Dallas: "We only want people to be happy and have a great experience," Mantica says. "Anything against that, to me, is an issue."

Santagati wrote in a statement that "this is not the end of the road for us." It finishes: "Stay tuned."

For more food news in D-FW, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

Lobster salad was one of the items on the menu when Circo opened in September 2018. The restaurant is closed as of June 23, 2019.

Lobster salad was one of the items on the menu when Circo opened in September 2018. The restaurant is closed as of June 23, 2019.

Shaban Athuman/Staff Photographer
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