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Restaurant Openings and Closings

Bolsa, the Farm-to-Table Pioneer, Has Closed in Oak Cliff

The end of an era for the Oak Cliff trailblazer.
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Bolsa is closed. The restaurant that more or less put farm-to-table dining on the Dallas map in 2008 shuttered last night after 12 years.

To judge by the Instagram feed, all seemed well. The first week of January boasted posts with beautiful beef tartare with pickles and microgreens; a hearty New Year’s cheers; and a “happy birthday” post for owner and co-founder Christopher Zielke. Then a 10-day gap—and in that time, the end came for the small restaurant that thrust this city into an era of more enlightened sourcing.

Landlord David Spence of Good Space confirms that last night was the restaurant’s last service. He locked after closing. “Technically, they were propelled into closing by my terminating the lease and locking them out,” says Spence. But the lock-out sounds to have been particularly non-dramatic. “This is all part of a plan,” he says. “We’re trying to preserve all the value that’s in the space: the menu, staff, concept, clientele. And we looked at how to make the transition. This is what the attorneys finally said. There had to be a kind of clean slate. Lease termination resets us. We had to just reset.”

One could say the end has been nigh for a while, now. Just over a year ago, in December 2018, Turn the Tables founders Christopher Jeffers, Tim Byres, and Zielke sold their North Oak Cliff restaurant Smoke to the neighboring Belmont Hotel. News had later revealed that the restaurant group—the one that had already closed Smoke Plano, The Theodore at NorthPark, and Bolsa Mercado, but still owned The Foundry and Chicken Scratch—was in hot water with the IRS, the state, the county, and credit card companies for failures to meet obligations.

Bolsa was a leap of faith for its founders and for opening chef Graham Dodds, who was succeeded by a slew of chefs who cooked in a tiny space with no walk-in fridge and no freezer. (The farm-to-table mantra of sourcing fresh and local made sense when nothing could be stored more than one day.)

It’s something about which many will feel a pang, at a time when the Dallas dining scene all of the sudden feels a bit like a house of cards, with big, long-time players coming down around us. (Stephan Pyles closed Flora Street Cafe and Fauna recently, and shifts are at work at Bullion.)

It remains to be seen what will replace the veteran institution’s funky, gorgeous space in a rapidly changing Bishop Arts neighborhood.

“My guess is that within 30 days, the new operator will have something to announce,” Spence says.” It’s gonna be familiar faces,” he continues, “familiar resumes.” Yes, new ownership, “but this was not a contentious thing.” Stay tuned for Bolsa’s successor.

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