Savoring Frisco’s Hidden Gem

by Ashli Urano

Located within the Shops at Starwood in Frisco, J. Theodore Restaurant and Bar has been a neighborhood favorite since its opening close to five years ago. Executive Chef Eleazar Dominguez continues to play a major role in bringing vibrant, intriguing flavors to each table. 
Dominguez spent his childhood living in southern Mexico near the city of Acapulco. Inspired by his mother’s expertise in Mexican-style cuisine, his culinary passion began to grow when he was 10 years old.
Moving from Mexico to Texas as a teenager was an exciting time for Dominguez and his close-knit family. Soon after settling into his new surroundings, he began his first job working as a dishwasher at Pappasito’s Cantina. Less than one week later, Dominguez was promoted to a new position as line cook.
 Dominguez laughingly said, “I was only a dishwasher for two days. Pappasito’s Cantina was a very busy place when I worked there. I enjoyed the challenge of learning how to prepare Tex-Mex cuisine. Everything about the experience helped me become the chef I am today.”
 
After much success, Dominguez felt it was time for the next chapter in his culinary career. He ended up spending 14 years of his life dedicated to mastering Italian cooking as executive chef at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. His leadership philosophy has always revolved around teamwork and customer satisfaction. 
“The guest will always come first,” he affirmed. “We have a talented team that makes our success possible. Some of the cooks have been working here for years. I love working side-by-side with them and want them to be happy. I will always do anything I can do for my team. Being there to lead them is an important part of my job.” 
 Owners Sheree and Derek Simms have the utmost respect for Dominguez and his exceptional talent. “We met Eleazar when he was working at The Glen Restaurant, which is one of our other concepts. We quickly recognized that he had a lot of potential,” she explained. “It was obvious to my husband and I that he was a strong leader. We knew he would be perfect as executive chef at J. Theodore. He had some big shoes to fill when he started the job and has definitely filled them. He’s done a tremendous job working with our kitchen team.” 
The restaurant’s contemporary American menu has evolved throughout the years. While the menu changes seasonally, the chef’s daily features have been wildly popular with guests. Dominguez said, “I constantly work on the menu to make it better. Having the perfect flavors and presentation for every dish is my ultimate goal.” 
 J. Theodore isn’t a typical dining spot. It’s an upscale neighborhood gem catering to various occasions. Whether it’s a birthday bash, a post-soccer meal, or a romantic date night, the restaurant prides itself on accommodating diverse needs. 
Sheree said, “What I love most about the holidays is when people choose to bring their friends and family here. They choose us when they want to show them the coolest restaurant around. It makes me proud that we are that place.” 
 She went on to say, “Between Eleazar back there leading the crew, along with what we do in the front of the house, creating an environment with live music on the patio and in the speakeasy, it’s something you don’t get everywhere.” 
The speakeasy, located within the restaurant’s hidden “secret room,” is accessible through a sliding door that requires a password to be a part of the unique experience. Sheree explained, “It’s shocking how many people are awestruck by our sliding door. We succeeded in creating a really fun atmosphere that our customers enjoy. In addition to our exceptional food, we have creative cocktails that our mixologists take a lot of pride in.” 
 Dominguez emphasized the cohesive nature of his team, highlighting their mutual support and camaraderie. “I don’t think my job is hard because our team works together. If one station is busy, we help each other to make each day a success. For example, the food must go out as soon as possible. When I’m working on expo, I tell everyone we need food runners, and they are all ready to make it happen. Our team is always there for each other.” 
Navigating change hasn’t always been without its challenges, particularly with long-standing staff members. “The people who had been here for years weren’t immediately ready for change,” Dominguez explained. “I tried to make sure they understood the changes that were being made were to help make things better. I let them know I knew they were working hard. I always say, ‘Work smarter – not harder.’”
Beyond the kitchen, Dominguez cherishes his family and how far they’ve come. “I’ve been married for 22 years. Our anniversary is this month. I love my wife and appreciate how she has always been understanding when it comes to my job as a chef,” he happily said. “My wife and I have two boys and one girl. My oldest daughter and son attend college in Arlington, while my other son is still in high school. It’s hard, but I tell my children that school is extremely important to their future.”
 With the unwavering support of owners Sheree and Derek Simms, Executive Chef Eleazar Dominguez remains the cornerstone of culinary excellence at J. Theodore, infusing heart and soul into every item served.

Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime, and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kirenia

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