The spaces formerly occupied by Toko V and Village Kitchen will, once again, get another chance at life. The downstairs will become K.T. Burger and the upstairs will morph into 5 Creeks Tavern.
The brains behind the project are Ray Washburne of M Crowd and co-owner of Highland Park Village and his best friend forever, Buddy Cramer, the “reformed commercial real estate lawyer” turned restaurateur. Cramer and Washburne are the main team behind both Katy Trail Ice House locations and Bandito’s Tex-Mex Restaurant in Snider Plaza.
Washburne and Cramer toyed with the idea of bringing Shake Shack to HPV, but decided to do their own thing. “Ray and I have known each other since the fourth or fifth grade,” Cramer says. “We grew up around here and nobody understands what this place wants more than he or I do.”
Both places will be low-key neighborhood hangouts. Not Village Kitchen low-key, they had a chef (Andre Natera). “I’m not a cheffy guy,” Cramer says. “I don’t believe in it. I’m about making good food. I find once something [a food item] is made to my specs, I can get someone to make the same thing over and over. I keep my menus small and simple.”
K.T. Burger will incorporate the ice cream shop in the theater and be a burgers and milkshakes joint. Besides burgers, the menu will feature salads, wine, and local craft beers on tap. Oh, and margaritas and beeritas. Cramer anticipates opening K.T. Burger just after the first of 2015.
5 Creeks Tavern is a more ambitious project and probably won’t open until March 2015. Cramer is installing a 7,000-pound Stefano Ferrara oven, the traditional Neapolitan handcrafted wood burning oven. Will he attempt to be the next VPN certified pizza joint in Dallas? “No, I’m not gonna do that,” Cramer says. “I want to offer several types of pizza. I really want this place to be a hangout with low-price options. We aren’t going to be Italian. We’re really going to be a neighborhood tavern.”
5 Creeks Tavern, named for the five creeks that once ran through the Park Cities area and drained into Turtle Creek, will feature six fresh pasta dishes each day, pizza, panini, and other sandwiches. The full bar menu will also offer 16 wines on tap and 16 beers on tap.
They are restoring the historic space back to the original brick walls and hanging old photographs of the Park Cities area. Cramer has spent many long days researching the history of the area and has come up with some interesting memorabilia.
“A lot of people [restaurateurs and developers] feel they need to put in something high-minded because it’s Highland Park Village,” Cramer says. “We want to make a comfortable, casual place where families can hang, or people can come in and have a beer and watch a game or have a glass of wine from our wine bar. Just a regular place to go.”