Ed Culleeney had been working for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. in Chicago since 1985, helping to develop and manage several of its concepts including the Mexican-theme Hat Dance, which he later helped to transform into Nacional 27. In 1996, company president Richard Melman called one day from Los Angeles. “He found this restaurant that he fell in love with,” Culleeney says. “The food was so good he had to go back to it three days in a row.” ...

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