Photography by Jessica Turner.

Regulars at Yamaguchi’s, Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun were sitting at dinner when they found out their friend Yamaguchi was planning on selling the restaurant in 2005. They had known each other for awhile — even tossed around the idea of opening a taco stand together, the kind that’s all the rage now. 

“It wasn’t that we weren’t going to do tacos,” Lynae says. “It was just, opportunity fell into our laps and we both looked at each other at dinner that night, said we should do this.” 

Their chef husbands Dean Fearing and Ken Rathbun told them don’t. 

Lynae and Tracy weren’t new to restaurants. Lyane started at Dairy Queen when she was 14 in a small Texas town. Tracy, an Austin native, started at Beans, a chain similar to Chili’s.

When Lynae got to Dallas, her resume included Dick’s Last Resort, Sfuzzi and eventually Del Frisco’s, where she met now ex-husband Dean. After a stint at Hyatt, Tracy left hospitality to work at Park Place Porsche. Lynae started teaching yoga. 

Opening Shinsei, a pan-Asian restaurant, in Yamaguchi’s old space felt right. They started calling banks for a loan to back the restaurant. It took them three months to sign documents and seven to launch their restaurant. 

“We’ve always had the philosophy that if you’re pushing something way too hard, it’s probably not it,” Tracy says. “But everything fell in place.”

Formerly a classic Italian restaurant, Yamaguchi’s was gutted, including the black and white tile. Their husbands helped with back-of-the-house structuring and developing a menu.

Yama’s house salad and the tuna tartare stayed on the menu. Everything else changed. They hired Dean’s former saucier Casey Thompson as the chef de cuisine before she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Eleven years later, Rex’s Seafood, a beloved Preston Hollow spot right around the corner from Shinsei, shuttered.

“We weren’t actively thinking, ‘Oh, we need to open another restaurant and start doing more,’” Lynae says.

But it just made sense. It was in walking distance, and if Lynae and Tracy didn’t buy the space, someone else would. Lovers Seafood and Market opened in 2017 with former Abacus chef Aaron Staudenmeier. The menu is all over the seafood spectrum — gumbo, lobster rolls and poke. 

It was a slower start. According to Lynae, about a year before the pandemic started, the restaurant started gaining more traction. 

“During the pandemic, we were one of the few restaurants open,” Lynae says. “So we got tons of new customers that had never tried us. And they loved it. And now they’ve become very loyal.”

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