Off Limits 

Chu-ed Out. Out On Jan. 8, just one month shy of its one-year aniversary, Chu—the Pan-Asian themed restaurant between its successful siblings Bound'ry and South Street—served its last plate of sui mai, at least for the foreseeable future. According to comptroller Morris Dever, a veteran of the restaurant industry and high school classmate of property landlord and investor Jimmy Lewis, the upscale restaurant wasn't making the numbers necessary to justify any further expenditures. The initial investment in Chu—more than five years in the making—was steep; among the interior accoutrements were a floor-to-ceiling waterfall, a 300-year-old teak door from a fallen Indonesian palace, and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. The Pan-Asian concept was Jay Pennington's, the Wizard behind Oz's curtains at Bound'ry and South Street. Diners didn't take as enthusiastically to Chu, and the restaurant has struggled since opening. Behind the scenes, Pennington and Lewis didn't see eye to eye on the property, with Lewis pressing for something more. For now, says Dever, all parties will take a good, hard look at the numbers, and try to come to some consensus about what to do next. Looking ahead, Dever says that plans are now in the works to duplicate South Street in other markets around the country, starting with locations close to home.

Phil Serves Some Comfort Food. As Gov. Phil Bredesen invites a few hundred thousand Tennesseans to find new health insurance, he's inviting every member of the state legislature to a black-tie dinner in their honor at War Memorial Auditorium Wednesday. Yeah, it's the kind of juxtaposition that makes communications staffers cringe—but don't worry, it's not taxpayer-funded. Under the state's open meetings law, however, it may be open to the public. So stop on by, TennCare enrollees. Just don't gorge yourselves on fatty foods unless you're sure you'll have health insurance in six months.

No Chris, You're the Man. New Tennessean editor E.J. Mitchell appeared on Channel 5+ last Friday, where Chris Clark greeted him with a couple rounds of, "You're the man, E.J.!" While we doubt Clark—who's been at Channel 5 since the civil rights movement—welcomes other guests with such mid-'90s streetwise enthusiasm, at least he didn't ask E.J. to "show him the money."

His Debt Is Paid. Reginald Lanier, whose story appeared in these pages not long ago ("The Mute Minority," Oct. 28, 2004), has his good name back. After jumping through a series of complex legal hoops, the former felon had his voting rights restored in court last week—which is no easy task in Tennessee. And attorney Charles Grant, who represented Lanier and scores of other petitioners, may have a national model on his hands for restoring the franchise to a couple of million former felons. Between the work of Grant and 92Q's Sharon Kay, the 13 percent of black men in America who can't vote may have a little more hope.

Karzai Might Look Good in Coonskin. Forget Afghanistan's burgeoning opium trade; one Tennessee congressman was recently implicated in a hat trade that involves Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Rep. Lincoln Davis, an ostensible Democrat from East of here, visited Afghanistan's newly inaugurated leader not long ago, according to a news report, and came back with a prized Karzai cap. Davis was shocked and awed by the gift and plans to send Karzai a coonskin cap to say thanks. Next week: Bill Frist, M.D., visits Mexico, returns with sombrero.


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