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News Bites

News Bites: An Old East Dallas Dive Bar Lives and the Burbs Come to the City

SideDish’s weekly digest of need-to-know dining happenings in Dallas.
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Exterior of the Starlight Lounge, light blue paint job.
Charlie's Star Lounge

Welcome to SideDish’s weekly dispatch of need-to-know News Bites, from quiet closures to opening updates and everything in between, including coronavirus-related intel.

The Team Behind the Nines Opens Charlie’s Star Lounge

In January 2020, Central Track brought word that the Starlight Lounge at 4319 Main Street—near North Peak Street in Old East Dallas, a handful of blocks away from Deep Ellum—would become Charlie’s Star Lounge. A whole year and some change later, Dallas Morning News reports that it opened last weekend. It’s spruced up for sure, but the Nines owner Allen Falkner and general manager Corey Howe, have kept as much of the Starlight’s divey qualities as possible.

A Deep Ellum Tea Shop Moves to a Bigger Space in Old East Dallas

Rakkasan Tea Company, the veteran-owned upstart that D’s Eve Hill Agnus profiled early last year, has grown despite the ups and downs of business during the pandemic, per DMN. Rakkasan is moving from a small Deep Ellum office to a 1,600-square-foot space on Ross Avenue and Hall, next to a cluster of popular neighborhood shops like Fiction Coffee, Dahlia Bistro, Bar and Garden, and Alice. (Another good read is this primer on brewing tea which also includes gems of tea wisdom from Rakkasan’s founders.)

Vinotopia Is for Winos

The latest concept to arrive at Legacy Hall in Plano is a purported utopia for wine lovers, ahem, hence the name Vinotopia. The wine bar and shop comes from FB Society, the same restaurant group behind Sixty Vines, Whiskey Cake, and more. It’s set to open on April 30 with high-tech wine taps and preservation systems for the freshest-tasting pours. Cheers to that.

A Plano Favorite Is Coming to Dallas

To be more specific, Haywire is opening an outpost in Uptown at the start of June. The Plano restaurant, known for their “ranch-to-table” Texas fare, like wagyu tomahawks and mesquite-grilled double-cut pork chops, is opening at 1920 McKinney Avenue. (Another North Texas export, Rye in McKinney, will be opening a first-time Dallas location, according to DMN.)

PSA: Try Not to Attack Customers When They Give You Fair Feedback. It’s a Bad Look.

Recently, a Toasted Coffee and Kitchen customer was enmeshed in an online exchange with someone from the official Toasted social media account (perhaps owner Bob Sinnott who has a history of being hostile on social media but he denies being involved). The customer, Melody Vo, who later shared screenshots of the direct messages, praised the cafe for its atmosphere but disagreed with its interpretation of Vietnamese coffee, or cà phê sua dá. Toasted’s was cold brew with condensed milk whereas a more traditional approach would be a dark roast brewed similar to a pour over style (coffee is steeped then slowly drips directly down into a glass with sweetened condensed milk).

“I’m just providing feedback as a Vietnamese American who loves Vietnamese coffee,” replied Vo. Toasted’s version, she said, “shouldn’t be misadvertised as Vietnamese coffee.” Toasted disagreed and threatened to (and eventually did) leave negative Yelp reviews on businesses believed to be Vo’s (they were not). 

The Dallas Morning News spoke with both Vo and Sinnott about the clash. Despite the hostile response from Toasted, Vo wanted speak out again the cultural appropriation. Sinnott is considering changing the name and/or the recipe. Long story short: This all could’ve been handled much more gracefully by Toasted, whether it was Sinnott himself or a “young female employee” as he claims it was.

Katy Trail Ice House Owner Has Died

Joe Tillotson died at age 53 from prostate cancer, reports DMN. Besides the enormously popular Katy Trail Ice House, Tillotson owned Redfield’s Tavern and launched Bryan Street Tavern, Bandito’s, Muddy Waters, and more.

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