Metropolitan Café, the fast-casual bistro in downtown Dallas, will reopen this fall after it closed almost two years ago.
The café shuttered November 2021 after its last owner, Michael Vouras, told the Morning News it was time to move on. But Noemi Chiriac wasn’t ready for that.
Chiriac was working at Raytheon in the summer of 2021 when she first walked into Metro Café. She says she was stunned by the walls covered in art and newspaper clippings, the white piano with scribblings from customers past, and the hutch filled with books and Dallas memorabilia. Chiriac says it reminded her of Massachusetts, where she lived for 18 years.
She returned several times because she loved supporting the business and its easy-to-please breakfast and lunch menu. Her favorite was the Meeker Special: a breakfast croissant sandwich filled with egg, ham, cheese, tomato, cucumber and scallions.
“I liked the owner, he was very cool,” Chiriac says. “They were also a family-owned business, I just love to support small businesses.”
In November 2021, Chiriac brought her mother to the café, hoping to show off the quirky place she found in the heart of downtown. Chiriac says she offered her mother up to help around in Metro’s kitchen. She was retired, and she loved to cook. But that day happened to be Metro Café’s last day of service.
“[Vouras] mentioned that he had two parties that were interested [in buying the restaurant], but they wanted to change the name or the concept,” she says. “And I said, ‘Maybe I should buy it for my mom.’”
She was sort of joking at the time, but several months later she was meeting with Vouras and took the plunge to buy the café in June 2022. She managed to snag a great chef, too.
Chef Randall Braud, whose experience includes working at Mot Hai Ba, Bolsa Mercado, and Barcelona Wine Bar, will take the helm of the kitchen at Metro Café. During the interview process, Chiriac says she was taken by Braud when he created dishes that blended her Romanian background with familiar Western flavors.
“He looked into my culture and learned some of the dishes,” she says. “I appreciated someone who was thoughtful, who was sensitive to cultures. Dallas is so metropolitan with people from all over, and I want to have on the menu something that’s appealing to everyone. Maybe create a home for people that are away from home.”
The menu is still in the works, but Chiriac says she plans to bring back familiar Metro Café items and introduce some new ones. Chiriac says she wants to bring her mom into the business, and she’ll feature a Romanian dish on the menu as a special when she’s able to make it in.
The Meeker Special will be back, and so will the Denver croissant omelet: a breakfast croissant sandwich with egg, ham, cheese, green pepper, tomato, and onion. The menu will also have bagels, pastries, panini sandwiches, and a daily lunch special. What’ll be new to folks is a cocktail hour, where customers can have small bites and drinks after the lunch hours.
The new Metro Café will bring back the white piano—Chiriac says she loves reading through the signatures and finding names of people she knows—but the restaurant will have a new look. She plans to replace the furniture and revamp the space in an Art Deco style. She wants to pay homage to the historic building: It was built in 1913 and was originally a Western Union office—the same Western Union Jack Ruby visited minutes before shooting Lee Harvey Oswald.
“I didn’t realize how much history Dallas had over the years,” she says. “It’s just amazing, and I like that. Let’s just go back in time.”
Chiriac has since left her full-time job as an engineer to jump into the restaurant industry. She hopes to build a new team at the revamped Metro Café. And she’s definitely looking forward to seeing the regulars and connecting with new customers.
“[I want to] share my joy and share my food with other people,” she says. “I’m going to be very excited to meet people from all over.”
2032 Main St.