D Magazine has many associations with The Grape, the cozy date-night spot on Greenville Avenue. Our editor Tim Rogers proposed to his wife in an almost-foiled moment of journalistic high-jinx in its intimate, venerable interior. (Ask him for more details.)
“It is with bittersweet and very mixed emotions that Brian and Courtney Luscher announce they are closing The Grape Restaurant on Thursday, October 10, 2019,” reads the opening of the press release that came today after Central Track broke the news. And you can almost feel the pall settle over its crowd of regulars. (Who are, perhaps, the same regulars who mourned when Luscher shuttered his eponymous Red Hots hotspot in Deep Ellum in 2016.)
The release continues: “The Luscher’s have operated the Lower Greenville institution since 2007 when they bought it from the original owners after working for them for a number of years. Originally opened in 1972 by Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker, The Grape has garnered numerous awards and accolades while hosting marriage proposals too numerous to count.” We count the one.
The Luschers had eliminated brunch earlier this year. (“We became a face in the crowd,” Brian Luscher says, referring to the glut of brunch offerings.) And when the restaurant’s lease and TABC license came up for renewal, Luscher decided to heed an inclination to shift course.
“We are at the crossroads of our liquor license and our lease,” he reiterates over the phone. “Last time, I said, ‘Give me the paper. Where do I sign?’” But now, as he contemplates a changed and changing dining landscape, he’s finding that his position within it is due for a shift, too. He notes that he will be able to spend more time with his 14-year-old daughter. He is teaching students at El Centro College. “The sausage company is growing in a very organic fashion,” he says of Red Hots, which still has his links all over town. “There’s always something going on,” he continues, hinting that there might be a “2.0 version” of the hot dog joint, though for now, “it’s nothing more than a teaser.”
When I revisited The Grape two years ago, I wrote this:
The dishes at The Grape are like old friends you check in on every once in a while. The house charcuterie board might feature house boursin (cream cheese mixed with herbs), a lusty chicken liver pâté, or a marvelous rabbit mortadella flecked with pistachios, the house style rustic and well-seasoned and calls for a glass of Bordeaux.
That remains true to the end. The Grape will be open through October 10.
And its several-decades run may fuel candid conversations between Luscher and his students: “Do you want security or do you want an adventure? Make sure you’re clear on what you’re trying to do and the reality and feasibility of [doing] it,” he says. “I want to pass that along, too.”