Lovers Again

Lovers Lane, according to Dallas folklore, got its name because it was the favored parking spot for smitten teenagers and others with a penchant for clandestine meetings. But that was before the public discovered its location was ideal for other pursuits as well – namely, shopping. Today on West Lovers Lane there is nary a parking space to be had, and the only lovers in sight are those who are enamored of beautiful clothing, fine food, and other luxury items.

Although this stretch of shops and other businesses on West Lovers (roughly bounded by Douglas Avenue to the east and Inwood Road to the west) dates back several decades, it has not always had the elevated status it currently enjoys. Though there had always been pockets of affluence and success-Lou Lattimore (4320 Lovers Lane) and Marie Leavell (147 Inwood Village) have long reigned supreme as specialty stores-the area as a whole frequently wasn’t as miraculous as its oft-quoted moniker, the “Miracle Mile,” would have you believe. In fact the area had long endured a rollercoaster-like ride of resurgence and decline. In the past four years, however, this relatively short strip has yielded some of the city’s hottest real estate, and between the frazzled (but happy) developers and the ecstatic business owners, many of whom are new to the area, it’s clear that Lovers has come back.

Developer Steve Levin of Levin & Associates, Inc., believes that the current renewal of interest in the Lovers/lnwood area is tied to a movement in general back to the inner city. “Back in the late Seventies, you saw commercial development primarily in suburbs or in outlying areas that are virtually suburbs, such as along the LBJ corridor, and it was mostly enclosed shopping malls. In the past three to four years, there’s been renewed interest in restoring and redeveloping neighborhoods-not only the Lovers area but also Lakewood, Oak Lawn and Turtle Creek would be good examples of that.” The area appealed to him as a development site, he says, because it had the atmosphere of a neighborhood shopping street as opposed to a mall, and “it had the added attraction of being in the Park Cities.” This attraction was not lost on other developers-The Brosseau Company, Carlisle Properties, Rut-ledge/Willingham, Realty Development, Hopkins-Shafer, Corrigan Properties and Henry S. Miller are among the many real estate firms with projects in the area.

“As each new boutique opens, the traffic through Lovers West increases,” says developer Thomas Brosseau. “Our tenants are reporting that their customers are thrilled to have this type of high-end shopping available without the crowds and distractions at major malls.”

Most of the tenants in the area agree that the neighborhood ambiance is an integral part of the shopping center’s appeal. Says Laura Roberts, co-owner of Nightingale’s (4354 Lovers Lane), “I think our customers like the human scale of the area. . There aren’t a lot of tall buildings, so the proportions are correct. There really aren’t that many places in Dallas that take the human proportion into account.”

Holly Brown, co-owner of Belle France (4404 W. Lovers Lane), says, “I definitely think that the neighborhood supports the area. Many of our customers drop in often because we are conveniently located for them -we are part of their neighborhood.” Like Nightingale’s, Belle France-a showcase for the fashionably old-fashioned, mostly floral dresses of designer Jane Schaff-hausen – is new to the area. It made its debut in August, the first Belle France boutique to open in Texas.

Luckily for Dallas shoppers, these two stores are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of new retailers now calling Lovers and Inwood home. Next door to Belle France is Merona (4400 W. Lovers Lane), whose drawing card is colorful, practical, unisex clothing for all ages. The store, which opened November 7, is only the second Merona boutique in the nation. Owner Michael Shtofman says that the location was selected, in part, because of the preponderance of women’s specialty stores in the area. “There is a void in the area of moderate sportswear, which we hope to fill. I think that Lovers will turn out to be ideal for us because the neighborhood itself is very family-oriented, and we are one of the few shops that is geared toward the entire family.”

There is a men’s clothing shop here (Clyde Campbell Menswear, 7721 In-wood Road) and a couple of stores for children’s wear (Kid’s Kollection, 5417 W. Lovers Lane, and For Children Inc., 4408 Lovers Lane), but by and large when you speak of clothing in conjunction with Lovers and Inwood you mean women’s clothing, and women’s specialty boutiques in particular. This specialization works in the area’s favor, retailers maintain, because customers come to Lovers expecting to find something they can’t get anywhere else in town.

Le Cadeau, which calls itself a “gallery of wearable art,” shares its elegant, peach-tiled Lovers West space with such well-heeled neighbors as Le Cygne (5301 W. Lovers Lane #117), Courreges (5301 W. Lovers Lane #107) and Ann Hartley (5301 W. Lovers Lane #106). Le Cygne, which means “the swan,” carries the lines of many French designers including Pierre Balmain, Claude Rap and, exclusively for Dallas, Cacharel. Courreges, which opened in September, is the exclusive source in Dallas for the sophisticated clothing and fragrance lines of French designer Andre Courreges. Charles Hiigel, general manager and sales director for Courreges in Dallas, says the location was ideal for several reasons. “First of all, it was close to the Park Cities, where many of our customers live. Also, as a general rule our customer doesn’t like malls-they can be too stifling. Finally, we did not want to be anywhere that would require us to open at night or on Sundays-our customer just doesn’t shop at those times.” Nearby, Ann Hartley’s focus is on high fashion for the career-minded woman. Other shops in the Lovers West complex include Papyrus (5301 W. Lovers Lane #119), a gift shop which opened only a few weeks ago, and Scialo (5301 W. Lovers Lane #121), a nail boutique that offers facials, makeup and waxing in addition to its nail services.

But back we come to clothing boutiques, which in this area are in apparently inexhaustible supply. Other notable sites well worth a browse-and more, if your pocketbook holds out-are Jill Handel (5405 W. Lovers Lane), Ann Priddy (4350 Lovers Lane), The Webb (5509 W. Lovers Lane), Susan Hope (4335 Lovers Lane), e’lanes (5222 W. Lovers Lane) and of course, The Gazebo (168 Inwood Village). Though The Gazebo has been there for only six years-not long given the history of the neighborhood, but long enough to see others come and go in the musical-chairs atmosphere of real estate – it’s now one of the old hands of the area, a perennial favorite for fashion diehards on the lookout for the newest and the sharpest. In September The Gazebo added another 2500 square feet to make room for European couture lines such as Versace and Soprani. If your budget can’t afford your taste for designer labels you will certainly want to visit Whatchamacallit (5401 W. Lovers Lane). You’ll find a good selection of designer clothing at discounted prices.

In addition to these clothing boutiques, there are the shops geared for still more select clienteles. If you crave fine lingerie, Karen’s Touch of Lace (7819 Inwood Road) is for you. If you’re going skiing, check out Southwest Mountain’s gear (5719 W. Lovers Lane). If you’re under 5’4’, there’s abbreviations, (4443 Lovers Lane) with merchandise ranging from Liz Claiborne sportswear and jeans to Anne Klein II business attire. If you’re pregnant, A Pea in the Pod (7815 Inwood Road) has an extensive collection of beautiful, high-quality clothing to suit any occasion-their selection includes work clothes, play clothes, evening wear, lingerie, even bathing suits and aerobics wear. And after the baby arrives, venture inside Sweet Pea, a small shop within A Pea in the Pod, for the finely made clothes and unusual toys to spoil your newborn with. If it’s your feet that need pampering, go to Shoe Biz (in Lou Lattimore), Smyth Bros. (5403 W. Lovers Lane) or St. Vicina (4425 Lovers Lane) for creative footwear. For jewelry to set off new clothes, venture inside Heart’s Desire (5216 W. Lovers Lane), which in addition to interesting jewelry has one-of-a-kind home furnishings, or visit Ben Morris Jewelry (4417 Lovers Lane), one of Dallas’ oldest and finest discount jewelers, who offers a wide selection of sterling, watches and diamonds. Even if you loathe shopping and sew all your own clothes. . .the city’s finest fabrics shops, Richard Brooks Fabrics (125 Inwood Village) and Nina Carron Fabrics (228 Inwood Village) are located in this area.

With so many clothing shops on Lovers and Inwood, it only makes sense that other area businesses are devoted to helping you look your best. Where there’s fine clothing there had better be fine dry cleaners close at hand-two of which are Avon Cleaners, the oldest dry cleaners on Lover’s having opened in 1931, (4343 Lovers Lane) and Fish-burn’s (5816 W. Lovers Lane). The Workout (4420 Lovers Lane) and Good-body’s (5419 W. Lovers Lane) offer exercise classes to help keep the body inside the clothes in prime condition.

If your hairstyle needs updating, Trisha Ramsey of T Ramsey Ltd (4333 Lovers Lane) will work with you to find your best look. And as long as you’re inside the salon, Linda Gregory of Nail Blazers can help your nails with a manicure, silk wrapping or other services.

An increasing number of Lovers area businesses are focusing on beautifying your surroundings. Shops like Nightingale’s, Vertu (7803 Inwood Road) and Heart’s Desire feature innovatively designed lamps, vases, telephones, clocks and the like for your home or office. Interior designer Howard Goldman recently moved his showroom from Hillcrest to the southwest corner of Lovers and Inwood. And there are now three florists serving the area: Carren’s Flowers (4341 Lovers Lane), which has been on the Lovers strip for over 30 years, A Budding Success (7817 In-wood Road) and Suz-Ann Flowers (4423 Lovers Lane).

Although many people have complained that there are too few restaurants in the Lovers/lnwood area and too little variety among the ones that do exist, this is rapidly changing. Among the older establishments are such neighborhood favorites as Mr. Peppe’s (5617 W. Lovers Lane), which serves nouvelle cuisine, and Ewald’s (5415 W. Lovers Lane), which features continental fare. Ewald Scholz, the European-born chef/ owner of the latter, says that even after 18 years, he is still as active as ever in the kitchen at Ewald’s. “We are only open when I’m here. If I go on vacation, we close the restaurant,” he says. “I don’t believe in mass production. It’s my name and I want to keep it proud.” Other fine restaurants in the area include Riviera (7709 Inwood Road) and Chez Philippe (5027 W. Lovers Lane) for continental cuisine, La Tosca (7713 Inwood Road) for Italian, Casa Rosa (165 Inwood Village) for Mexican and Celebration (4503 W. Lovers Lane) and Wonderful World of Cooking (5007 W. Lovers Lane) for home cooking. Among the establishments drawing strong attendance for lunch are Massimo da Milano (5519 W. Lovers Lane), the Italian bakery/cafe, and Willies Pies of Texas (5619 W. Lovers Lane), which not only offers generous slices of homemade pies but soup, sandwiches and quiches for those “who lunch.” Recent additions to the Lovers/lnwood restaurant region are the Turtle Cove Fish Market (7809 Inwood Road), which last month opened up an adjoining restaurant, and Cafe Margaux (4424 Lovers Lane), which opened in August. Cafe Margaux, which is owned and managed by restaurateur Tom Agnew, is the only restaurant in Dallas to focus solely on Cajun French cuisine.

The future appears bright for the Lovers/lnwood area economically, though some are saddened by the changes development has brought to the area. Bob Berney, manager of the Inwood Theatre, says, “The down side to (such rapid development) is that a lot of Mom and Pop stores simply can’t afford to be here anymore. I think that’s a shame because you do need that variety in an area like ours.” Lisa Carren of Carren’s Flowers has lived in the area most of her life and is the third generation of her family to work at the florist’s. She says she has mixed feelings about the changes in the area: “It’s exciting now to own a business on Lovers because of the development. Thirty years ago it was a dirt road, and now it’s the next Rodeo Drive. It’s great to see quality coming back to the area…. As a homeowner I don’t like some of the changes. But as a business owner I can appreciate them.”

Tom Brosseau, of The Brosseau Company, which developed Lovers West, says, “It’s a dynamic area that is going to continue to get better. Many Lovers West retailers were surprised during the early months when they realized that the most exclusive items sold as quickly as their other merchandise. As new merchants emerge and look at prospective spaces in Dallas, I think they’ll realize that West Lovers Lane, with its proximity to the Park Cities and North Dallas -to the buying public, is the place to be.”


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