Rusty Taco at Main Street Garden to Close on September 14. Ellen’s Southern Kitchen Will Take Over

I'd name it The Rusty Picnic
I’d name it The Rustic Picnic.

Downtown Dallas, Inc. is working on Labor Day Weekend. This morning they confirmed the rumor we posted earlier this week and announced Joe Groves and Chef Russell Mertz, of Ellen’s Southern Kitchen in the West End, as the new operators at Main Street Garden. Rusty Taco, the current vendor, is expected to close on September 14.  A yet unnamed café will expand and reopen in mid-October.

Who is Joe Groves? He’s a long-time Main Street resident and former operations director of the technology team who had a hand in the development of Main Street Garden.  Joe is also very active in the West End as a part of Dollz Haunted House in the West End Marketplace and an active member of the West End Association.

Ellen’s chef, Russell Mertz, was in the kitchen of The Butcher Shop in the West End. The restaurant just got a new name: South Fork Texas Steakhouse. Groves and Mertz want to make Main Street “Downtown’s backyard.”

Hey, let’s suggest some names for them!

Jump for their plan.

 Besides serving great food and drink while also providing a place where residents, employees and visitors will want gather, put their feet up and enjoy the surroundings.  The two plan to extend service further throughout the park beyond the café’s current patio boundary and will work closely with DDI to provide items like picnic baskets and wine and cheese trays during events.  They also intend to bring their own programming.  Look for trivia nights, game watching parties and Bingo to return to the café deck.

The menu will consist of upscale “picnic-style” cuisine:  all-day “lunch boxes”, sandwiches, salads, wraps and other seasonal items (i.e. snow cones), all with the quality and richness expected from Chef Russell. Also look for items with a bit of a creative flair, like an all-day cereal bar.  Groves describes, “We see this in some ways as a food truck without the wheels, so we’re having some fun with the menu.”  Operating hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday – Sunday, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon and evening beer and wine service. The name is still to be determined.

DDI is working with both operators to ensure a smooth transition with as little impact on food and beverage service at MainStreetGarden as possible.  During high demand times while the space is being turned over, DDI will program food carts and other mobile concession options, as well as ensure full service at all upcoming events.


  • Downtownworker

    Ellen’s Patio

  • Glenn Campbell

    No offense, but this sounds like sh*t. Bingo night? Food truck without wheels? Cereal bar? Good luck with that.

    Ellen, you and your people have a great opportunity here, don’t f*ck it up like everyone before you. Be creative, but not for the sake of being creative (ie “cereal bar”). Like this: every Thursday a local band will play. For $2 you get a Rudolph’s hot dog and a can of beer.

  • BingoBaby

    Bingo? Are they trying to be the poor mans Klyde Warren Park. Nothing wrong with that one bit but please keep it classy. Or I mean make it classy. I’d love to see MSG have more focus.

  • Anita Banks


  • Anita Banks


  • AmyS

    150 Square Feet

  • Greg

    I am wondering how a new café can serve beer and wine when RT was unable to continue due to folks leaving the patio area with open containers? RT would probably still be in business if they could have kept their original menu, ie guacamole (which they said did not sell and went bad; although my experience showed they were always sold out!) all the tacos they once had and alcohol. Too bad so sad Rusty Taco aka Uncle Julios.

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  • mrEmannE

    How about this name suggestion: “Downtown Dallas Doggie Dump”? IMO, that’s what the place is good for. It’s the least park-like park I’ve ever been in. Good luck to Ellen’s. I think they’ll need it.