Home & Garden

Dallas Restaurant Visionaries Have Fun With a ’70s-Inspired Tablescape

Featured in Table Matters

JB Jones and William Baker know a thing or two about entertaining on a grand scale. Cofounders of JonesBaker—the hospitality-focused interiors and architecture firm responsible for the design of CrushCraft, Princi Italia, and Meso Maya, to name a few—they specialize in creating appetizing restaurant interiors that tell a cohesive story, from the largest light fixtures to the smallest piece of flatware. Yet when it comes to entertaining at home, they’re decidedly low-key. “When you get too formal, it gets too stiff and too unforgiving,” Jones says. “The art of hosting is that the host gets to have a nice time, too.”

To create a summer-ready place setting, their minds immediately went to a favorite source of inspiration: travel—albeit with a retro tinge. Their newest project, Victory Park’s Hero restaurant, inspired their ’70s motif, which is complete with vintage souvenir plates emblazoned with classic Las Vegas casinos and vintage glassware echoing the bands of color on the custom-designed tables. The plates and glasses were found at Dolly Python—a favorite source of Baker’s—and blended with gold flatware and a vintage-looking rattan place mat from Target.

JB & William’s Tips for Having Fun When Hosting

Take It to Go
When it comes to what’s on the plate, neither Baker or Jones prefer the DIY route. “I’ve only got about two recipes I can do without great disaster or illness,” jokes Jones, who will fire up the grill for Friday night backyard grill-outs. (Cooper’s Meat Market is his go-to: “It’s reassuringly expensive,” he laughs.) Baker cites Jimmy’s Italian Store and The Commissary as favorite spots for grab-and-go items. If you must cook, he suggests getting everyone involved: “It’s fun to cook as a group while drinking wine and catching up.”

Have a Plan B
Jones recalls hosting a gathering 14 years ago at his then-new home, only to find that not all of the utilities had been turned on. “I had no gas on my stove,” he remembers, “so we made a quick run to KFC.” The lesson? “Roll with it,” he says. “Something’s going to go wrong. Just remain calm. If you have a forgiving crowd, you’re going to be all right.” Adds Baker: “Always have back-up booze.”

The Dish on Dishes
Jones is a proponent of using your good stuff even for not-so-special occasions but also swears by Crate & Barrel for inexpensive and beautiful finds. “There are so many simple, good designs there,” he says. “And the outlet is just wonderful—cheap and easy.” He doesn’t overbuy, preferring more intimate gatherings in his small home: “A place setting for 10 keeps me happy and not dusting all of my waking hours.”

Ask Ahead
A courteous host considers the dietary needs of his guests beforehand, notes Baker. “As someone with a peanut allergy—they hide those in everything!—I make sure none of my guests have allergies.”

People Over Plates
In the end, your table setting won’t make or break a party. “Focus on the food; focus on the people,” Jones stresses. “Everyone’s going to talk about how lousy your pasta was, not how ugly your plates were.”


Resources: Vintage plates and glassware: Dolly Python; Gold flatware and rattan place mat: Target; Napkin and table: Hero

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