Students taking courses at chef schools in Texas may have just lost a preferred dining venue, at least for the foreseeable future. According to The New Orleans Advocate, the Uptown Blanco Restaurant, which is located just outside of San Antonio, closed its doors for business in early February. While the status of a potential reopening in the future remains unknown, even more mystery seems to shroud the true cause of why the restaurant closed in the first place. Though it cannot be said for sure, the problem seems to have stemmed from a legal battle involving a wealthy New Orleans family who partially owns several professional sports franchises.
The Uptown Blanco Restaurant is one of the projects of Renee Benson, an entrepreneur who lives in Texas. Ms. Benson owns a company that does building work in the Southwest, Uptown Blanco, and the Advocate has reported that the establishment was part of a development effort that included more than a city block worth of buildings. While none of the other businesses in the area have been closed, there is no current reopening date available for the Uptown Blanco Restaurant. According to multiple sources, the note left on the door indicated only that the eatery was closing for repairs and maintenance for a period of at least several months. According to TripAdvisor, the restaurant served upscale American fare in a semi-formal atmosphere.
The closing of the restaurant appears to be a sort of casualty of a far larger legal battle that Ms. Benson is currently involved in with her father, Tom Benson. The elder Benson owns considerable portions of both the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, and he is currently in legal negotiations with his children regarding who will inherit his shares of the team and vast array of properties. According to the San Antonio Express News, it is believed that Renee is taking some time away from the restaurant in order to focus on the case. Leslie Komet Ausburn, a spokeswoman for Ms. Benson, confirmed as much in a statement to several newspapers.
“With everything that’s going on, she wants to focus on the issues at hand,” said Ausburn.
Uptown Blanco company and development
The Advocate has reported that Renee’s development company, Uptown Blanco, allegedly owes the elder Benson nearly $17 million. Mr. Benson had loaned nearly $20 million into a trust that Renee was to use to get her Uptown Blanco development off of the ground, and the majority of it has apparently not been paid back. While the sum is certainly not on par with the potential value of the two franchises that Tom Benson may leave to his children, it could cause considerable legal difficulties for Renee as the case moves forward. Though the trial is still developing, two of the most important moves have come in recent months. Mr. Benson has elected to leave the entirety of his trust to his second wife, and Renee Benson is motioning to have him declared mentally unfit to manage the assets. Only time will tell the ultimate outcome of this legal battle, and whether or not the Uptown Blanco Restaurant will again open for business.