Phil Schanbaum was just 20 years old when he opened his first restaurant, M Street Bar, in the Lower Greenville space that’s now occupied by Sundown at Granada. He sold it a year later and became a promoter at a nightclub, where he met another promoter, Brandon Hays. Together, they went on to launch This & That Hospitality Group and now own and operate six restaurants and two fitness ventures (see sidebar), with plans to open a bar in the Design District this month.
Early on, Schanbaum and Hays met Robert Colombo, former owner of Dallas-based Italian chain Sfuzzi, whose first iteration in the late 1980s had 20 locations and generated annual sales of $30 million. At the time, the two were running a nightclub that neighbored Colombo’s concept Trece. Colombo shared his goal of resurrecting Sfuzzi, whose owners went bankrupt in ’87, and Schanbaum and Hays wanted to segue from nightlife to restaurants. “It’s only so much fun to ask your friends to spend $1,000 a night for so long,” Hays says.
With others, the three relaunched Sfuzzi in ’09. Despite its success—generating more than $200,000 a month in revenue, Hays says—the operating company over it went bankrupt after four years.
Several members of the Sfuzzi team also launched Uptown’s Standard Pour a year prior. Hays drew out the concept on a napkin and created the food program with Schanbaum and others, partnering with mixologist Brian McCullough for the extensive cocktail menu. What began as Hays’ doodle still operates successfully today, and Hays remained a partner until it was bought by Parliament owner Eddie Campbell in 2018. After Sfuzzi shuttered, Hays and Schanbaum launched their own company. “That’s where This & That Hospitality really got its genesis,” Hays says.
The group’s first concept, a New American bar and restaurant called So & So’s on McKinney Avenue, opened in 2014. “We saw a truck pass by and were like, ‘We need something like so and so’s and sons,’” Schanbaum says. “Then we thought, ‘Why don’t we just call it So & So’s?’” The venue closed in 2017—after he and Hays opened two more bars on Henderson Avenue.
The duo jumped on an opportunity to tap softly into their roots. “We’d been away from the nightclub stuff for long enough to where it was a hankering for us to have this party bar thing,” Hays says. While they were in construction on what would become The Whippersnapper—a nightclub now known for its themed popups—the space next door became vacant. Hays and Schanbaum converted it into a patio bar called High Fives in 2015. The Whip opened a year later, combining disco and dive-bar feels. “We took a lot of the pretentiousness out of Dallas nightlife,” Hays says.
Since then, This & That Hospitality launched Design District draw Ferris Wheelers Barbecue, born when a friend sold Hays and Schanbaum an actual Ferris wheel, Pan-Asian restaurant and cocktail lounge Alice on Ross Avenue, and 1,000- square-foot bar Tiny Victories in Oak Cliff. “We have a healthy appetite, and we really don’t like sleeping a whole lot, so we try to do as much as possible,” Schanbaum says.
The duo also reopened Sfuzzi last spring—this time as owners and operators—on Henderson, retaining the concept’s bones. “It’s full circle,” Hays says. “It’s where we cut our teeth. Now, we get to come back and do it with our experience.”
Next up? A neighborhood bar called Double D’s (short for Design District) will open on Riverfront Boulevard this month, catering in part to restaurant-goers seeking post-dinner drinks. It will serve pizza and sundaes, in addition to a wide range of cocktails and an elevated wine list. “Every great neighborhood deserves a great bar, right?” Schanbaum says.