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Richards bring GM experience, passion to Dakota Grill

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Gaslamp steakhouse Dakota Grill & Spirits recently announced the addition of Carrie Richards as the general manager, and the Cohn Restaurant Group's (CRG) newest member.

"Everyone in the CRG is obsessed with hospitality, sharing the same goal of making our guests happy. Carrie definitely shares that same philosophy," said David Cohn, president of the Cohn Restaurant Group. "I am confident that Carrie's incredible experience and proven success in the restaurant industry will translate to her management of Dakota Grill & Spirits. We are pleased to have such a respected professional join our family."

As Dakota Grill & Spirits general manager, Richards will oversee all front and heart of the house operations. With a philosophy of "be the best at what you do and do it right," Richards will ensure that service, cuisine and value are exceptional for restaurant guests. Driven by teaching and mentoring hospitality staff and maintaining a high quality of service, Richards will steer Dakota into 2009.

"I am extremely excited to be with the Cohn Restaurant family and look forward to growing with the company," said Richards. "My goal is to remind the community of Dakota's delicious menu created by executive chef Todd Nash and the incredible value that the restaurant offers."

Richards has nearly a lifetime of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Prior to joining the Cohn Restaurant Group, Richards was the general manager at Dussini Mediterranean Bistro in the Gaslamp Quarter. Hired in 2004, Richards was responsible for all aspects of building the successful restaurant and bar from the ground up for its 2005 opening. Striving to establish the best environment for guests and staff, she created and managed all training manuals, systems and procedures, hiring and training of the staff and management, ordering front and back of the house product inventory and marketing.

Richards' first taste of San Diego downtown dining was as general manager of Croce's Restaurant where she improved relations with downtown entities such as the Gaslamp Quarter Association (GQA), Convention Center and ConVis.

Her experience in hospitality management includes positions at Citrus Suites in Santa Monica, Kings Seafood in Long Beach and P.F. Chang's Bistro in Irvine.

Richards currently sits on the GQA board. When she isn't at Dakota Grill & Spirits, Richards can be found spending time with her husband Steve, and 1-year-old daughter, Ruby. Richards is an avid San Diego Chargers fan and can also be spotted at the beach on a sunny day.

Whisknladle Neighborhood Bistro & Bar, located in downtown La Jolla, is featured in the December 2008 issue of Food & Wine Magazine. The venue is highlighted in a feature on San Diego called, "Food Across America," which reads:

"Scrawled on a chalkboard wall at the almost-year-old restaurant Whisknladle are witty quotes like, 'As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.' Chef Ryan Johnston has every right to be proud of his locally sourced, farm-to-table dishes. I had an excellent platter of homemade charcuterie with delicious accompaniments like pickled ramps from nearby Chino Farms. And the mussels, cooked in a garlicky white wine sauce, were harvested about 25 miles away in Carlsbad."

Since its opening in February 2008, Whisknladle has been praised by local and national restaurant reviewers for its commitment to farm-to-table and making all ingredients in-house. In May 2008, it was named on Conde Nast Traveler's Annual Hot List as one of the world's best new restaurants.

Whisknladle specializes in Mediterranean-inspired gourmet comfort food and purchases all of its ingredients from local organic farms and growers and bakes, churns, smokes, ages, cures and pickles everything in-house. Additionally, its cocktail menu includes innovative creations from mixologist Ian Ward, who infuses all liquors in-house.

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