Cutest Culinary Couples in Dallas

By Farah Fleurima  |  February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days and evenings of business for many restaurants, and this year should be even bigger because the holiday falls on Friday. With the kind of legwork it takes to run a restaurant on any day, it helps to have a partner who understands the ins, outs, ups and downs of the business. We talked to seven standout culinary couples in Dallas who successfully juggle the passionate toil of restaurant life together.

  • The Couple: Kent Rathbun (Abacus, Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen, Jasper’s) and Tracy Rathbun (Shinsei)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: “We met at Abacus. He mailed me a hand-written thank-you card, and I was so impressed, I made a reservation,” Tracy recalls.

    How Long They've Been Together: 14 years

    Go-to date spot: “Shinsei. It's 30 seconds from our house.”

    Best Thing About Being in a Relationship With Someone in the Industry: Tracy says, “We totally understand when the other one HAS to work. Nights, weekends, holidays, including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.” Kent replies, “I have had other relationships that didn’t go as well due to the fact that I had to work a lot of nights. Other people just aren’t as understanding of it, and it’s been a great thing for Tracy and me. We understand each other’s business, and we help each other with decisions and rely on each other’s feedback.”

  • The Couple: Cassie Green and Gary Stephens (Green Grocer)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: Cassie says, “, baby! When they say you can find truly ANYTHING on the Internet, they are not kidding.”

    How Long They’ve Been Together: Nearly nine years

    Go-to date spot: “We love going to Sundown at the Granada. It seems to always fit our mood, whether we are feeling casual, it's post-work or we want to meet up with friends for some nice cocktails and a little live music.”

    How They’re Spending V-Day: “Heading to the Balcony Club for music, champagne and sweets!”

  • The Couple: Brian C. Luscher (The Grape, Luscher’s Red Hots) and Courtney Luscher (The Grape)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: Courtney was working as a hostess at Routh Street Brewery and Brian was hired as the chef in 1996.

    How Long They’ve Been Together: 17 years and married for 12 years

    Go-to date spot: "Special occasion go-to is The Mansion; everyday go-to, which usually includes our 8-year-old daughter Landry, is Neighborhood Services Grill or 20 Feet Seafood Joint," Courtney says.

    How They're Spending V-Day: Working (of course)

  • The Couple: Allison Yoder and Stephen Rogers (Gemma Restaurant)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: “We met in Philadelphia when we were both working as classical musicians,” Allison says. “Stephen had a summer job at an Episcopal church as an organist/pianist where I was the soprano soloist during college. He was getting his master’s in piano and vocal coaching at Indiana University while I was studying in Philadelphia.”

    How Long They’ve Been Together: 20 years

    Go-to date spot: “Our favorite date night spot is at Nonna in Dallas.”

    Best Thing About Being in a Relationship With Someone in the Industry: “We work together in our own restaurant. There are so many reasons ... We trust each other, and we bounce ideas off of each other. We get to see each other all the time when in this business it’s tough to visit with anyone because it’s 24/7."

  • The Couple: Gina Gottlich (Bijoux) and Scott Gottlich (Bijoux, Second Floor Restaurant)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: Working at Aubergine in Southern California – Gina worked the front of the restaurant and Scott was in the kitchen.

    How Long They’ve Been Together: 11 years

    Go-to date spot: Any place without the kids!

    Favorite dish/drink the other person makes: Scott says, "Gina’s bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil, tons of garlic and fresh mozzarella or a Chef's cocktail (pear Grey Goose, soda, splash of Sprite and two limes)."

  • The Couple: Christi and Brian Rudolph (FM Smokehouse)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: The couple met many years ago while each working at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin. Brian was a beverage manager and Christi was a cocktail server.

    How Long They’ve Been Together: Says Christi: “We’ve been together for 13 years and married for more than eight. We have one four-year-old girl, and a boy who’s almost two.”

    Go-to date spot: “We live in Frisco but like to go down to Dallas at least once a month to try some of the newer concepts that have opened. We’re partial to bars and restaurants that support independent craft breweries like we do at our establishments.”

    How They’re Spending V-Day: “We'll be hosting our first Valentine’s Day Beer pairing dinner at FM Smoke House and our fourth at the Holy Grail Pub. The following weekend we'll sneak away to do something just for ourselves.”

  • Credit: Kevin Marple

    The Couple: Gene and Julie Gates (Battuto)

    Relationship Status: Married

    How They Met: Julie was a traffic reporter for Gene’s radio show in Olympia, Wash. Gene says: “The crazy thing is, Julie was broadcasting 60 miles away in Seattle, and we worked together for a year-and-a-half before we finally met in person. Once we met in person, sparks were flying everywhere – we turned that into on-air chemistry and started ‘The Gene & Julie Show’ right after that.”

    How Long They’ve Been Together: “We’re coming up on 19 years; we met and started our career together in 1995.”

    Go-to date spot: “We absolutely love Shinsei. Their Thai Fried Rice and Banana Parfait keep us coming back for more. [Sushi chef] Elvis’ sushi is wonderful, and we adore the owners Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing. They are smart operators and are always innovating and adding to the menu."

    Most Romantic Food Moment: “While driving in France, we stumbled upon a charming medieval town on a hilltop between Nice and Monaco named Eze Village. The cobblestone alleys were filled with fragrant jasmine and bougainvillea, and as we meandered about, we found ourselves hungry and came upon a restaurant. Little did we know we accidentally bumped into La Chèvre d’Or … a Michelin Guide 2-star award-winning restaurant. Our server greeted us with a glass of Dom Perignon, and the evening was just magical with impeccable food and service. To make it even more romantic, we were seated at a large window with stunning views of the Côte d'Azur. We couldn’t have planned a more perfect night—it’s one of those times when everything was a happy 'mistake.' In that moment, it felt like we were living in a movie.”