Another Attempt to Bring a Grocery Store to Downtown Dallas

The DMN reports on the tripartite venture in downtown Dallas, which will eventually include a grocery shop, a liquor store, and a cafe in the space occupied by the failed Urbanmarket:

Urban Orchard Market is a grocery store that promises to have a higher percentage of organic versus conventional foods. It will sell local produce and feature frozen yogurt and a deli counter.

Urban Vineyard is the upscale liquor store, earning that description because it’s been designed to feel more like an Apple store than a corner package store.

Bar None Café expects to satisfy most cravings with a sushi bar, taco bar and sandwich bar. It will also have a hot and cold menu. Fresh juice, smoothies, coffee and snack foods will be sold at another station.

The booze shop will come first, later this month. Then the grocery in August, followed by the cafe a couple weeks later. Unlike with Urbanmarket, the city has not signed on to invest $600,000 in the effort.

Here’s hoping they make it works. Urbanmarket, which began with such glorious aspirations, was a depressing place full of empty shelves and dollar-store-type items by its sad end.


  • Karl

    Unfortunately, these too will fail. Just like upscale failed at Victory, it won’t work here. Why hasn’t anyone figured out we need a national chain downtown – think Kroger, Walmart Neighborhood store, etc.

    Focusing on high-end, mostly organic, blah, blah, blah isn’t what most downtown want. I want affordable, and I want selection. I’d like inventory that turns over quick enough that I don’t have to worry that something will expire in a day or two because I failed to check the label. I once bought a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream at Urban Market, to get home and find that half of it had evaporated, replaced by water crystals. Yay!!!!

    Most times I simply walked in only to walk out later because they didn’t have what I was looking for. I’ve lived in downtown and Deep Ellum for the better part of 13 years now, and I just want a national chain grocery store downtown. If I want organic or specialty, I will go to Central Market or Whole Foods the way I do now. We need less marketing BS and more common sense when it comes to putting these things down here. High-end organic, with no selection, and high prices, means stuff won’t move, and they won’t have what I want to buy anyway, which equals Urban Market part deaux.

    Why can’t we get a company with years of grocery store experience and buying power to move in down here with the current population, instead of a retread of something that already failed put together by a bunch of clueless twenty-somethings. I guess that’s what you get when you’re “world class.”

  • Karl

    and, yeah – I spelled deux wrong. Whoops.

  • -dd

    Have to agree with Karl. As an 8 year resident of downtown, I watched the rise and fall of Urban Market. The market as originally conceived and executed was pretty decent, but maybe ahead of its time in terms of a critical mass of downtown residents. As the population was rising, Urban Markets prospects were falling as a result of its repositioning itself to the lower end.

    I agree that the market does not need to appeal to the specialty foods segment of the market to be successful. IMHO, most downtowners are more gritty than organic, and the basics will do. And with three charters, its focus seems pretty scattershot and thus diluted. For booze, cost and selection will go much further than an Apple Store environment. The cafe faces more competition than it did last go round for the office workers looking for lunch, especially with the food truck options that have popped up. I will be surprised if it resonates with downtown residents for before-during-after work.

    Even more than that, the market complex faces a challenge with its location. To really reach its market, it should be somewhere closer to the Ackard/Elm (Pegasus Square) location to make it logistically ideal for the greatest mass of downtown residents. Nobody wants to get in their car to drive six blocks to get two blocks as the crow flies and then have to deal with parking, homeless zombies, and the waste they tend to leave on the buildings and sidewalks around Urban Market.

    But I wish them luck…

  • The Kid

    Sorry for going off topic, but has the Ricci Group just dropped the ball on the old Statler? I am only a few blocks away and no one has touched the Statler in a long time. However, Forrest City had crews working like crazy to get the Continental Building up and running. Are there any D staffers with insight? I suppose this post is not entirely off topic, but somewhat…

  • Lucia Simek
  • allison

    dd makes a good point that ties to Karl’s. If you’re going to have to get in your car to shop at a grocery store downtown, why not just drive somewhere that actually has the all things you want, all the things you need (that aren’t expired or half-evaporated) and decent parking. Anytime I have visited family in DC or Chicago or friends in NYC, I don’t pass fancy, small organic grocery stores one after the other. I pass CVS, Walgreen’s and the like. Stores that function as smaller, mass-market stores. If you want to have a successful downtown area like DC or Chicago or NYC, maybe you should have more functional, realistic stores for the actual residents like they do.

  • Amy

    If there was a profit margin, a national chain would go there. But there isn’t. And Walmart is only cutting it slimmer in their other markets.

  • HealthyInCity

    I second what Karl said… While I love to support unique local business wholeheartedly, downtown Dallas really needs national chains to come in. Not all is lost by having a corporate chain come in. As I was studying for my urban planning and urban design degrees one of the things that stuck with me was the statistic of having 50% national chains in a downtown area helps the revenue of local businesses in downtown increase by 75%.

    In my opinion, beyond a grocery store, downtown needs to shift away from the 9-5 atmosphere that it has traditionally been. It needs to be a place where families want to live and where kids can get a good education. Until we broaden the market(s) that downtown caters to, I don’t know how much success we’ll truly see.

  • Karl

    At the very least, I’ll take DART to CityPlace or Mockingbird Station and know that I’m going to a store that has what I need.

    Stayed a night in Fort Worth a couple of weekends ago and just got a better vibe for their downtown. Not sure they have a chain grocery downtown, but the streets, curbs, and sidewalks are so much nicer than Big D. We really need to power wash the grime off downtown and quit letting the dods pee on every building if we want it nice down here. Got off topic, but this really is even bigger than getting a good grocery store down here. My only complaint with FTW is you can still smoke in the bars.

  • Darren

    I believe I read somewhere here that another group picked up the Statler from Ricci, as they ran out of money. Forest City has opened the Continental and residents are living there.

  • Darren

    If Uptown/Oaklawn can support Alberston’s, WalMart NM, Whole Foods, 3 Krogers and soon Trader Joe’s, then Downtown can support at least 1 store.

    If a downtown resident wants gourmet/specialty, there are at least 2 online companies that deliver to your door. We need basics! I find myself going to CVS to pick up little things like milk, soap, toilet paper, bread, soup, etc.

    Hate to say it, but this will fail. Three 20-something guys, who don’t live here, with no grocery experience, won’t be able to meet the needs of downtown residents. They are going to focus more on the cafe and wine than groceries.

  • Brent

    I think this is the perfect concept for downtown Dallas! I can’t wait to not only see their organic offerings but also pick up “everyday items” that I’m sure a grocery store of this size will have. I have a feeling that these three young gentleman know exactly what they’re doing and will do everything it takes to make every downtown resident happy and want to return weekly. A business with the actual owners in the store daily usually succeeds because of the impeccable service that comes with it. Look forward to meeting friends for a sandwich or salad at lunch and to just have a nice fun shopping experience (similar to what people get at Trader Joes). See you at the opening!

  • Loc Tran

    Let me ask you guys something. The model that you want is similar to what the previous market offered, and they failed. So why would urban orchard take that same low end approach. They are providing something new and much more convient.also, by spliting up that space to create a wine shop and restuarant it is much better than the old dollar store.