Dallas We Have a Problem: Pre-Theater Dining at One Arts Plaza

Monday night, the Winspear Opera house hosted a sold-out concert featuring Kathleen Edwards, a Canadian folk and country singer, and Bon Iver. Yesterday, one concert attendee, Dallas Observer critic Scott Reitz, wrote a post about the ridiculously expensive “petite sandwiches” served at the concession stand. He posted a picture of what looked to be space food canapes—little Pacman-shaped bread circles with a slice of roasted beef. A little later, I received an email from a reader who’d tried to dine at The Commissary on Monday night. The place was jammed. The reader said the food was good but the service was a disaster.

In the comments section of Reitz’s post, the ubiquitous Jon Alexis (jonfromtjs) made some remarks that rocked my opinion of One Arts Plaza. I admire Lucy Billingsley and her vision of creating a space where Arts District patrons can dine before and after a show. However, Jon pointed out the problems on Monday night. Snippets: “Commissary delicious but slammed, understaffed, and stressed;” “Screen Door, chef working bar, poor lady so frazzled she’s knocking glasses over;” “Jorge’s, one bartender for 20 people at the bar.” Both Tei-An and Fedora were closed.

Jon brings up a great point. “Can the restaurants not look at the schedule and see when a concert is sold out MONTHS prior that they should staff up?” I thought Screen Door offered pre-event dinners but perhaps they only run for larger events. The patio area is a perfect place to hang before and after events. I would think the already struggling restaurants would at least stick a buffet table outside and serve some drinks. Or call in the food trucks. This is a perfect scenario for One Arts on what would otherwise be a slow Monday night. I’m sure the Kathleen Edwards concert drew a crowd that would have returned to any of the places at One Arts Plaza if they’d been impressed. Now, all they remember are plastic packets of Pacman canapés made by Wolfgang Puck Catering. But don’t get me started on that again. (Wolfgang Puck? Why not a local caterer.)