A Garces chef opening his own restaurant

Chef Tim Spinner is Jose Garces' longest-serving chef, working by his side since 2003, when Garces started running the kitchen at El Vez for the Starr Restaurant Organization.

Spinner followed Garces out the door when Garces left to go solo and opened Amada.

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Tim Spinner.

As Garces began opening other restaurants, Spinner took over the kitchen at Amada. He also appeared with Garces in the finale of The Next Iron Chef and toured Mexico with his boss during the planning of Distrito.

Spinner, now chef de cuisine at Distrito, is leaving the nest, as he told his staff Friday afternoon.

Spinner and Distrito beverage director Brian Sirhal are opening Cantina Feliz, a modern/traditional Mexican resto with a bar, at 424 S. Bethlehem Pike in Fort Washington. The spot, which was Alison two briefly, for many years was Marita's Cantina, an ultracasual Mexican eatery.

Spinner, whose wife, Sandy, grew up down the road in Flourtown, said they will do cosmetic changes only; they're going for rustic.

They'll keep dinner entrees at $15 to $25 and will be open for lunch and dinner at the outset, which is aimed at November-December.

Garces, by the way, seems totally understanding. "Tim has been a great talent to work with over the past seven years and has also become a great friend," he told me. "He will be missed as he is someone who everyone enjoyed working with here. I wish him the very best of luck on his new endeavor, and I can't wait to go try his food."

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