Monday, April 15, 2024 Apr 15, 2024
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Restaurants & Bars

Meet Leftovers, Bishop Arts’ Beloved Restaurant Patio Cat

His real name is Bishop. He prefers chicken—cold, please, and white meat only. He does not look both ways before crossing the street. Say hello to the new mayor of Eighth Street.
Bishop—now also known as Leftovers—is the unofficial boss at restaurants and bars on Eighth Street. courtesy Meri Dahlke

The talk of Bishop Arts is the unofficial mascot of three different businesses, a familiar face to neighbors, and a budding social media star. A chicken-loving cat named Leftovers has won over the hearts of Oak Cliff diners.

We dug deep, learning his real name—it’s Bishop, not Leftovers—and tracking his daily routine. Here, for the first time, is the complete story of a member of the Ten Bells Tavern cat colony who has developed a mythology all his own. While Ten Bells completes work on its new location, Leftovers has become a nomad, in pursuit of the two things he loves most: attention, and chicken.

He’ll accept pets from anybody, but he’s very particular about the chicken.

We spoke to five of the cat’s friends and enablers to learn more.

Leftovers arrives on the scene

Meri Dahlke, owner, Ten Bells Tavern: One day I came here, because I feed [the Ten Bells cats] every day, and there is this gorgeous new cat. He is beautiful. I assumed he was somebody’s cat because he’s so friendly, and he was already TNR’d [trapped, neutered, released]. His ear was chipped. He kind of joined. He was always here and then one day I drove up to go feed him and I saw him on the steps of La Bodega. I put my window down and yelled, “What are you doing?” He followed my car. I called the ower, Skye [McDaniel], and apologized, “I’m sorry my cat is on your doorstep.” She said, “Are you kidding me? That’s Leftovers. Our chef Bryan feeds him.” And then I found out Jimmy [Contreras, across the street at Taco y Vino] feeds him too. I was like, “You little hooker! how dare you? You betrayed me! You came to me this poor cat, and now you’re spreading it up the street.”

Skye McDaniel, chef-owner, La Bodega: I think he spends most of his time at our spot because we don’t have people dining in. If they eat, they eat outside. He can beg from people out there, and I think they usually oblige. For a while we were concerned when we didn’t know he was [Meri’s], pitching in, taking care of him. Jimmy said, “He’s good, he makes his rounds, he only eats chicken.”

He’s got highbrow tastes for a kitty. You’re an outdoor cat being fed by two of the best food suppliers in Bishop Arts? He’s a lucky boy. He’s living a life.

Meri Dahlke, owner, Ten Bells Tavern

Jimmy Contreras, owner, Taco y Vino: How Leftovers and I got tight was, the first winter freeze, Meri couldn’t get down here. I was going over to check up on the shop, pick up wine, and I think there were a couple times we might have cooked in here because I didn’t have power in the house.

Dahlke: I told Skye, you can call him Leftovers, we can call him Bishop. He can have a dual personality. I’m just glad that people love him.

Leftovers poses for a selfie with La Bodega chef Bryan Driver. courtesy Bryan Driver

His daily routine

McDaniel: My chef, Bryan, is the sweetest man on the planet and a total sucker. He gets there at 8 a.m. and he has a whole routine with Leftovers. Bryan waters the plants, we give Leftovers a new cup of water, and when Bryan goes in, he comes out and brings a treat of chicken. If I switch shifts with Bryan, Leftovers is sitting on the front of the steps, waiting.

Bryan Driver, chef, La Bodega: He waits for me in the morning and he’s the first one to greet me at the shop at 8 a.m. every morning. I look forward to getting there because I know he’s waiting for me. I don’t like to be late for him.

Nicole Gossling, former cook, La Bodega: Bryan is his biggest sucker, because even if he just got chicken, if he looks at Bryan with those sad eyes, Bryan has to go in and get him a little bit more chicken.

Driver: Skye knows the game he’s playing. To me it’s more like, oh he loves me, he’s waiting for me.

Dahlke: He kind of makes the rounds. “I’m going to come here for breakfast, I’m going to go over here for second breakfast, I’m going to go over to Ten Bells for an early lunch.” When I was in Spain a long time ago, I went to this bar, and there was a group of old retired men. The bartender told me, “Oh, they’re retired, they just go all day from bar to bar to bar.” That’s what I equate it to.

Contreras: We were joking about it the other day. “There goes Leftovers!” Just saunters across the street, no rush. He’s not moving fast for anyone.

We both looked for that affection every day. And, of course, the chicken for him.

Nicole Gossling, former cook, La Bodega

McDaniel: He shows up when we’re opening and closing and he knows the 5 o’clock hour is when a lot of people are coming and eating outside. On our front of house duties sheet for closing at night, it’s like, bring in tables and chairs, give Leftovers his treat, finish your closing duties.

Gossling: At the end of my shift, when I took out the garbage, I had a little chicken for him and brought him new water. It wasn’t at the end of the day. It wasn’t at the end of anybody’s shift. It became a thing that everybody on staff was excited about, to give this sweet little boy some chicken and some pets.

McDaniel: He sleeps next to our stairs, behind bushes. He looks like a dead animal. I also think that he is that strategic. He looks pathetic and hot, and like he can’t. He just needs the chicken that you have in your bag! In my mind, I’m like, this is all a ploy, dialing up his adorability. He’ll pass out in our garden on his back.

Contreras: We see Leftovers come out and I’ll ask the kitchen for a little bit of chicken tinga, put it in an 8 ounce soup container, and put it out for him. We all know he only eats chicken.

McDaniel: I never see any other cats except for Leftovers. Bryan mentions there’s a little black kitty coming around every now and then. He’s dubbed Scraps. This is gonna be an expensive bill. Organic chicken is not cheap!

Yes, he only eats chicken

Contreras: I put carnitas out there, carne asada, and he only eats chicken. We always have water out there for Leftovers. We would set meat out there—untouched. Didn’t even look at it. Didn’t paw it. Chicken (snaps fingers) gone. Originally, I [named him Leftovers because I] thought he was gonna eat leftovers, you know what I mean? And then he only ate chicken tinga!

Gossling: I tried to give him the chicken skin, but he didn’t seem to want crispies. He just wants fresh pulled chicken.

Contreras: I didn’t know that! [That he only eats chicken everywhere else, too.] I thought he didn’t like my other meats. I was like, “Dude! These are some of the best carnitas in town! And you’re only going for tinga?”

Driver: He kinda turns his nose up sometimes. He likes his chicken cold. He doesn’t like fresh chicken. We’ll pick chicken and if it’s fresh out of the rotisserie, he doesn’t vibe with it as much. [He prefers] a cold piece of white meat. He’s got dark meat, he doesn’t like it as much. What’s he losing out on? He knows he’s gonna see me at 8.

Leftovers sprawling on the steps at La Bodega, waiting for chicken. courtesy Skye McDaniel

Gossling: There was one time I gave him some of the froyo. I wish anybody else could have seen the face that he made. He was licking a little bit, and I put a little glob on one of the rocks. He licked up the whole glob, and he got a brain freeze. His mouth was open and he did a little chatter, like an eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh! He was pretty spastic afterwards, like, what just happened to me? I never gave him more froyo. But it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Dahlke: I’m like, OK, you have wet and dry Friskies, the gravy kind, not even the pâté. He’s got highbrow tastes for a kitty. You’re an outdoor cat being fed by two of the best food suppliers in Bishop Arts? He’s a lucky boy. He’s living a life. My other cats do not go up there.

Everybody loves leftovers

Gossling: He’s the sweetest, friendliest cat. My cat had passed away, so it was so rewarding and so nice to get to come to work every day and get to pet this cat. Every night he was rolling out on his back, legs sprawled, wanting tummy rubs. It felt natural and normal, like he was my cat. We both looked for that affection every day. And, of course, the chicken for him.

McDaniel: While I love Leftovers and think he’s so sweet and cute, I think of him as a master manipulator. We’re all happy to be manipulated. Me less, but Bryan is all about it. He calls him his baby. He’s got a whole rapport with this cat.

I look forward to getting there because I know he’s waiting for me. I don’t like to be late for him.

Bryan Driver, chef, La Bodega

Driver: He’s just such a cute boy.

Gossling: People were always concerned. “Is this your cat? Do I need to leave out food for him?” So we always say, he’s a neighborhood cat, he’s well loved. It’s a little hot but otherwise he lives like a king. He is so well loved, and he eats the best organic chicken.

Dahlke: I don’t want somebody thinking, “oh, this poor cat can’t be outside.” He’s well taken care of by all of us. When we start the build-out of Ten Bells, there will be a cat house. I don’t know where he sleeps at night, but when we have patrons again, I imagine he’ll come over.

Contreras: People are tagging Leftovers here on social. He has his own online persona. We probably should have started his own Instagram account. Leftovers the Cat. We should do it right now. Let’s do it right now. (pauses interview, creates account) There. Done. I’ll share the login so all of us can post for him. (As of publication time, the account setup is not complete. We will publish an update if Leftovers gets on Instagram.)

McDaniel: I love it. He has become our mascot.

Dahlke: He’s the mascot for Eighth Street.

Leftovers relaxes with Meri Dahlke at the future home of Ten Bells Tavern in Bishop Arts. courtesy Meri Dahlke


Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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