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Openings/Closings

The 2021 Restaurant Closures We’re Quite Sad About

Oh, you thought December was all merry and bright? Nah. Let’s pour many out for the restaurants that won’t make it to 2022.
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Local Oak

Whether it’s a time-tested restaurant staple or the tiny shop around the corner from your home, when they’re gone, it stings.

So let us process our emotions and grieve the restaurant and bar closures of the year. I asked staffers which places it pains them to see go. And to those establishments, we say thank you for all you’ve given Dallas over the years.

January

Cantina Laredo at Preston and Royal
Taking two punches right on the chin, Catina Laredo was first hit by a tornado in October 2019, which forced it to close and remodel. Then, the following year, after it reopened in January 2020, it was K.O.’d by the pandemic’s haymaker. After more than 20 years, it just couldn’t survive. It officially called it this January.

“Yes, there are plenty of places close by to get your Mexican fix, but so many were—and still are—really rooting for those businesses at that intersection because they’ve been through a lot.”

—Bethany Erickson, digital editor at People Newspapers

February

Cultivar Coffee Roasting Co.
February 21 was the local roaster’s last day on Jefferson Boulevard. Its East Dallas location remained, reports the Dallas Morning News. The reason behind the closure was a common one: “Owner Jonathan Meadows says in a letter to fans that the pandemic hurt Cultivar’s sales and the lease was up in Oak Cliff.” Many such indie coffee operations have sprung up since 2009 when Cultivar first arrived on the scene; it’s certainly among Dallas’ Third Wave pioneers.

March

The Ginger Man
The Uptown beer bar was demolished this year. A moment of silence for this creaky pile of wood. I have but only a handful of pre-pandemic Dallas memories and downing pints of beer in a crowded room at the Ginger Man is one of them. A folk band was jamming in the corner by the bar. Upstairs, on the not-quite-outside, but not-quite-safe-from-cold-breezes patio, every squeaky step was felt. There, friends drank and played board games and asked strangers to take pictures of them with their smartphone as though it wasn’t a glassy brick of bacteria. Those were the times! Now those times are reduced to rubble. Stream Realty bought the property at Boll and Howell streets in February 2020, and it’ll eventually become part of the redeveloped Quadrangle project.

20 Feet Seafood
The perennial favorite for a great basket of fish and chips shuttered for good in March. Count Marc Cassel’s White Rock-area spot among a legion of pandemic casualties. It closed down a year ago, back when COVID-19 induced dining room closures everywhere. Unlike others, though, 20 Feet closed and stayed closed “after lease negotiations couldn’t be resolved,” reported the Dallas Morning News. 

“20 Feet Seafood having to close makes me question the proposition that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Marc Cassel deserved better.”

—Alex Macon, senior digital editor

Ruby’s Sno-Balls
The stand that brought New Orleans-style shaved ice to Old East Dallas lost its walk-up location on North Haskell Avenue. That’s according to Ruby’s Sno-Balls’ social media announcement about the news. It’s a gut punch to anyone who’s quelled the summer heat with Ruby’s icy treats. Summer 2021 wasn’t the same without it.

June

Royal Blue Grocery
The local founders of Royal Blue Grocery in Dallas—Zac Porter, Emily Porter (Zac’s wife), and Cullen Potts—peeled off from their Austin counterparts. This means it’s time for a rebrand. Say goodbye to Royal Blue and hello to Berkley’s Market, named for the Porters’ first dog, a rescued Schnauzer mix. (Note: Don’t confuse Berkley’s with Barkley, like the NBA’s Charles, which is how I spelled it once, or with Berkeley, as in the California city, which is how I spelled it after correcting the previous wrong. Zac Porter may show up with something snarky to say to you in your inbox. You’ve been warned. And so was I.)

The first Dallas Royal Blue, which opened in Highland Park Village in 2015, closed June 27. The other stores across Dallas will transition to its new persona, with the Oak Cliff Berkley’s Market following suit when it debuts, eventually, at 634 West Davis Street, the former home of Bolsa Mercado.

July

Barbecue Blues
Two Dallas barbecue joints shuttered this past summer. Pour two out for Mac’s Bar-B-Que, which closed on July 27 after 66 years of brisket. For more than six decades, Mac’s served a style of old-school ‘cue we’re beginning to less of these days, reports DMN. The DMN article chronicles Mac’s history and speaks with owner Billy McDonald, who has carried the torch of his family’s barbecue legacy since the late ’70s.

Meanwhile, Lakewood Smokehouse likewise called it quits after five years on July 22. “The last year and a half has been extremely difficult for the restaurant industry, and like many restaurants, between sales having not returned to pre-COVID levels and the cost of everything we buy increasing by 20 to 50 percent we have been just hanging on and hoping things would improve but unfortunately, that has not been the case,” read the announcement on Facebook.

Wild About Harry’s
The beloved Travis Street restaurant announced that its last day will be July 4 (Harry’s favorite day) in a social media post. We’re still in mourning. “We are grateful to have had our home on Knox/Travis neighborhood for 25 years! We will continue to look for a new home, but at this time the spaces are limited due to construction, renewal and beautification of Knox Street,” the post said. Over at one of our sister publications, People Newspapers, Kersten Rettig shared a great tribute.

“I mean, is nothing sacred?”

—Bethany Erickson

Oak
After about a decade in the Design District, ARG Concept’s Oak closed to rebrand; it’s a move that, owner Richard Ellman told Dallas Morning News, had been in the works for a while. It’s a long-renowned restaurant in Dallas that has had more than its fair share of chef turnover over the years.

Ragin’ Crab
Dallas CultureMap reported that Ragin’ Crab on Greenville Avenue closed. The dining room appeared mostly empty and somebody had scrawled a note and left it on the door: “Sorry we are not opened today – Manager.” The Ragin’ Crab website confirms the closure and says the restaurant will reopen in a new location is yet to be determined. A spokesperson told CultureMap that it was a lease issue and they hope to reopen in a new location in Dallas by the fall. (Still no movement on that front.) Ragin’ Crab had served up Louisiana-style shellfish and Cajun dishes since 2016.

August

Trinity Hall
The Mockingbird Station pub literally gave Dallas an Irish goodbye, quietly closing in August without so much as a Facebook post saying, “We’ve slipped away while you were at the bar getting another round.” After 20 years, the lease was up. (This Dallas Morning News explains the farewell in more detail.)

“The site of my misspent single-girl years and possibly a place I accidentally on purpose spilled a drink on someone like I was trying out for Dynasty.”

—Bethany Erickson

Revolver Taco Lounge — Fort Worth
Owner Regino Rojas, who originally opened Revolver Taco Lounge in Fort Worth in 2011, told the Dallas Morning News that the homecoming was always a part of the plan. He made good on that plan this June. But it only last about two months.

So why was Revolver’s return to the city where his tacos began short-lived? DMN’s Sarah Blaskovich asked chef-owner Regino Rojas just that. The curt, if unsatisfying answer: “Rojas says business was slow in Sundance Square. He didn’t want to comment further,” reads the article. After much hubbub about Revolver reopening in Fort Worth, this time at Sundance Square in a former Taco Diner space, it seems Rojas wants to focus on the success at his two Dallas locations (Deep Ellum, of course, and the new spot inside The Exchange Hall). “I need to defend the ground that feeds me,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “Dallas is home.”

Jonathon’s Oak Cliff
At the tail end of August, the neighborhood brunch favorite served its last platters of chicken and waffles. Jonathon’s has left Beckley Avenue for Forest Lane. “On commutes into Oak Cliff, Jonathon and Christine Erdeljac, owners of Jonathon’s Oak Cliff and the sister diner down the street on Beckley, would always swivel in their seats to catch a view of the Kel’s sign,” writes Nick Rallo for the Dallas Morning News in his report that Jonathon’s Oak Cliff is leaving said neighborhood for the Kel’s space in Forestwood.

September

Mot Hai Ba (Victory Park)
But let’s pour one out for the closing of Peja Krstic’s second Mot Hai Ba location. The Observer broke the news that the Victory Park restaurant was shuttering for good. Earlier this year, D’s Eve Hill-Agnus wrote about Peja’s remodel of Mot Hai Ba’s original, intimate Lakewood location. Sometimes the sister spot needs the draw of regulars. As Hill-Agnus wrote then of the Victory Park struggles: “The animated neighborhood that pulsed to the beat of sporting and entertainment events had become a deserted ghost town during the lockdown. Without events in the area, Victory Park had lapsed into quietude. And so the larger footprint closed in mid-December and just reopened after six months.”

Taco Diner (West Village)
The taco spot, er, diner rather, is said goodbye to West Village after two decades in Uptown. Between its closure and Mi Cocina’s relocation (albeit nearby), West Village is light on its taco and marg offerings.

October

Lada
Lada is now nada—as in nothing, as in the North Dallas restaurant, which opened late last year with chef-driven enchiladas, is closed October 10. Dallas CultureMap reports that opening chef Michael Ehlert (formerly at Mirador and The French Room) left in June and that customers were perhaps hoping for a sit-down option rather than Lada’s fast-casual setup.

Cosmic Cafe
Another painful stab in the Dallas dining scene, especially for vegetarians. After more than 25 years, which is one helluva restaurant tenure these days, the Oak Lawn Avenue vegetarian Indian restaurant closed. Its last day was October 17. While comforting bowls of dahl are gone, there will more space for meditation and yoga which has expanded into the dining area.

Luna’s Tortillas y Hacienda Restaurant
Halloween did give us a trick and not a treat this year when the longtime tortilla factory’s Northwest Dallas restaurant closed. The Luna family has been in the tortilla business for 97 years and the restaurant industry for 13 years. The silver lining here is that they will still make tortillas. “There’s no way I’m going to let this die out two years from hitting 100 years,” owner and patriarch Fernando Luna told the Dallas Morning News.

November

Anvil Pub
Anvil Pub was among some of the dwindling Deep Ellum pubs where a bunch of leather-bound bikers could pull up for brunch alongside the younger urbanite set with their dogs tucked underneath patio tables. Dallas Morning News shared word of the closure after Anvil Pub owners posted on Facebook: “I know it’s short notice, but tonight is it.” Aside from AllGood Cafe, Anvil Pub was a spot for an unpretentious breakfast and a strong bloody mary.

Val’s Cheesecakes
After more than six years in Oak Lawn, owner Val Jean-Bart closed his bakeshop on Maple Avenue. Earlier in the year, Jean-Bart pulled his Val’s Cheesecake’s counter out of the food hall at The Exchange in the AT&T Discovery District. He told the Dallas Observer in August that he’s out after he ran out of cheesecake and Exchange management put out products to sell from his counter that weren’t his. The way the situation was handled, or mishandled rather, was too much for Jean-Bart. (The Lower Greenville operation remains open.)

December

Great American Hero
This one hurts. Dominick Oliverie, a math teacher-turned-sandwich slinger, closed up Great American Hero. The Dallas staple that has issued subs since 1974. Oliverie moved to Dallas in the 1970s when his wife got a new job at American Airlines back when the DFW Airport first opened. And this year Oliverie realized it was time to finally put down the bread knife. “I just said to myself back in February, to my wife, I said, ‘I’m gonna retire.’” Read the full story I published in July here.

BrainDead Brewing
It’s the end of the year now, somehow, which means bars and restaurants and other providers of hospitality are deciding whether they want to take on another year. While 2020 was rough, 2021 was no picnic either. In a Facebook post on November 26, BrainDead Brewing announced that it was its time. “We are thankful for everyone that supported us through almost 7 years of brewpubbing in Deep Ellum, the best neighborhood there ever was…. “We appreciate every person that has ever walked in our doors and given us any of your time and hard earned money. We’re sorry that we gotta go but we love you and wish you the best!”

Sam Wynne, who opened BrainDead in 2015 with Jeff Fryman, brewer Andrew Huerter, and chef David Pena, told Dallas CultureMap that he, too, found out the news via Facebook.

Metropolitan Cafe
Another closure posted to Facebook, and then shared via food media, comes from Metropolitan Cafe:

“This is not due to any health issue or injury, or anything forcing us to stop. It just seems that this is the right time to move on. 20 years in one place is a long time, not to mention operating that whole time in a high-traffic, volatile, rapidly changing spot.”

It’s hard to argue with, We’ve truly just had a good, long run and it’s time to shut it down. Good things simply come to an end. Metropolitan Cafe’s end was the day before Thanksgiving. Metro Cafe is one of those dying breeds that is less about “a concept” and more interested in providing a hot cup of soup or a Greek-style chicken dish. Its owner told the Dallas Morning News that its regulars made it feel like a bar without booze.

The Local Oak and Ten Bells Tavern
The rapid development in Bishop Arts pulls absolutely zero punches. The particular swaths around Zang Boulevard and Davis Street will close The Local Oak and neighbor Ten Bells Tavern. Whereas Ten Bells has active plans to relocate further down the street, the future is less certain for other the neighborhood watering hole. “The pandemic really took the wind out of our sails,” Local Oak owner Alycen Cuellar told Oak Cliff Advocate. They’ll close by the end of this year.

Author

Rosin Saez

Rosin Saez

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Rosin Saez is the online dining editor for D Magazine's food blog SideDish. She hails from Seattle, Washington, where she…

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