Virginia B. Wood has nothing but good news.

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Though there was talk on the street about the possibility of this deal since before Christmas, the official announcement finally came in mid-January that Bick and Erica Brown have sold Zoot (509 Hearn, 477-6535) to chefs Stewart Scruggs and Mark Paul, also the owners of Wink (1014 N. Lamar, 482-8868). There's a certain kind of symmetry in this deal for Scruggs and the Browns, since Scruggs worked in the kitchen at Hyde Park Bar & Grill before attending culinary school in New York and was their partner and chef at Zoot when it opened originally. The Browns were well aware that Zoot needed to be a chef-driven restaurant, and when their search for a permanent replacement for chef John Maxwell didn't turn up the right candidate, they approached Scruggs for suggestions, and talks about the sale began. Now Scruggs and Paul will operate both West Austin restaurants and are looking forward to the larger seating capacity Zoot will offer them. Zoot is scheduled for a week or two of renovations and should be open to the public with a Scruggs/Paul menu in time for Valentine's Day... And speaking of John Maxwell, when contacted last week, he was eagerly awaiting the go-ahead to start serving breakfast at the Judge's at Mansion Hill (1900 Rio Grande, 495-1800), the elegant, 48-room boutique hotel about to open in the former Wooten manse at the corner of MLK and Rio Grande. If all the permits and inspections fall just right, the mansion should be accepting guests by Valentine's Day, and Maxwell will be able to serve them breakfast. He expects the restaurant to expand to lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch during the next few months... While plenty of folks celebrate their romantic anniversaries on Valentine's Day, Javier and Amelia Corona and their daughter Maricarmen Dale commemorate the opening of their restaurant Las Palomas (3201 Bee Caves Rd. #122, 327-9889) on Feb. 14 every year. This year, the Coronas celebrate 20 years of bringing quality interior-Mexican dishes to their loyal West Lake Hills clientele. The trio Los Romanceros will be playing their regular Friday night gig at Las Palomas for the anniversary celebration, so make your reservations early. Congratulations to them all!... AIDS Services of Austin (406-6115, recently announced their 10th annual Red Ribbon Dinner Series lineup for 2003. The fundraising dinner series was founded in 1993 by Stewart Scruggs and former City Grill owner Lew Aldridge and has raised well over $100,000 for ASA in the past 10 years. Each dinner offers a five-course meal with wines for $125 per person. On Feb. 17, chef Gary Hvizda of Gumbo's (710 Colorado, 480-8053) will host a Louisiana-style dinner, and seats are still available. On March 3, chef John Maxwell will give Red Ribbon Dinner guests a sneak preview of Judge's at Mansion Hill when he hosts a dinner. For more information and to make reservations, contact ASA by phone or via their Web site... At press time, it looked like we might have to schedule a second (later) showing of Mostly Martha for the Eat, Drink, Watch Movies screening on Feb. 14 to meet the demand. Check the Alamo Drafthouse Web site at to see if there are any more seats available, and come prepared to have a great evening with your sweet baboo.

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