Downtown gets Urban Market, and now I can get Ivory soap—and steel cut Irish oatmeal—without trekking all over town.
by Adam McGill
Here’s what happens every time my wife and I invite someone over to our downtown condo, someone who has not been there before. As we wrap up our tour of the building and our unit, our visitor nods as he or she surveys the place. “Pretty cool,” that person says. “Thanks,” my wife and I say in unison. Our visitor then waits a beat before asking, “Where do you guys buy groceries?”
If you must know, until recently we made the weekly trek to Central Market and/or Whole Foods, along with the hordes of Greater Dallas. We, like them, loaded up our SUV with cartfuls of produce and cheese, drove upwards of 10 whole minutes, got home, and unloaded it. What was the big deal? Before Urban Market, what were we and the 3,500 other downtown dwellers missing out on?
Convenience. The kind of convenience that comes in handy when a recipe needs three eggs and you only have two. Or when you’re feeling healthy and want a salad instead of bar food. Or when you need bread and you only have mold.
Praise Urban Market. It has a full-service bar, which is beside the point. There’s a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu at the cafe that shares the 20,000-square-foot space with the groceries, but that, too, is beside the point.
The point is, Urban Market has groceries galore. The array of epicurean choices is vast enough to make any suburbanite jealous. The produce is bountiful and clean (ginger! red cabbage!). Salad lovers will suffer decision paralysis in front of nearly 100 different dressings. The bread is from Empire. There are eight types of soy milk, for goodness’ sake, along with enough toiletries to stock up for the apocalypse.
Now, when people ask where my wife and I buy our groceries, we can just point. “Over there,” we’ll say in unison.
A good grocer carries the staples to get you through the week: eggs, milk, toilet paper. A great grocer carries the epicurean delights you never needed before but now can’t live without. (Hello, porcini oil.) Here are a few of our favorite offerings from the new Urban Market.
John McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmel ($6.29)
Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil ($2.49)
Cranberry Cactus Jelly ($4.69)
Tchibo Exclusive Coffee ($4.99)
Seventh Generation All-Natural Dishwashing Liquid ($3.99)
|HUNGER BUSTER: Lillie Romano helped create a nonprofit group that opposes the new ordinance.|
New regulations for feeding the homeless stir up a pot of trouble.
by Jessica Norsch
When the Dallas City Council adopted new guidelines for the feeding of the homeless that take effect September 1, most of the changes made sense. Outreach groups had to register with the city. Check. They also had to attend a food-safety class. No problem. But a provision that requires the city to approve feeding locations has set off an unexpected food fight between charities and neighborhood associations.
Previously, groups that fed the homeless could go where they saw fit. For example, Lillie and Phil Romano’s nonprofit organization, Hunger Busters, believes in going where the needy are, not asking the needy come to them. That’s part of the reason Hunger Busters, which relies on donations (the Romanos pick up the tab for the Wednesday feedings), has been so successful. Tina Williams, executive director at Hunger Busters, says the new requirement “threatens why the charity was founded in the first place.” Another volunteer agrees, saying, “We have a no-strings-attached approach to feeding the hungry. The only requirement is that you be hungry.”
So why would the City Council meddle in the affairs of groups that provide such a service? As it turns out, unrestricted feedings—including those on or near private property—can leave behind a great deal of trash and waste (yes, including human) that residents must clean up. “Feeders have a great deal of concern for the hungry,” says Mary Guthrie, president of the Cedars Neighborhood Association. “But does that mean they righteously get to pretend that the aftermath of their good efforts doesn’t have a damaging impact to the neighborhoods in which they feed?” Other residents in the Cedars worry that the feedings hurt their neighborhood’s revitalization, and they question why homeless residents wouldn’t be able to find approved locations if they can already locate shelters and clinics. Guthrie says she supports the mission of groups like Hunger Busters but believes the new ordinance is a reasonable compromise. “There has to be a workable solution without a negative effect on the neighborhood,” she says.
Art Sellinger knows how to pound that little white ball—and make millions in the process.
by Art Strickland
A decade ago, Art Sellinger was a hardworking but fairly unknown Dallas golf pro. He gave the occasional lesson, and he competed in tournaments across the country. Though his short game didn’t wow the crowds, Sellinger could do something spectacular: drive the ball a mile. Or at least 400 yards.
Today, the 40-year-old has built a multimillion-dollar empire around that talent. His Long Drivers of America—which is golf’s version of baseball’s home-run derby—has attracted thousands of golfers worldwide to compete for the nationally televised RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship. This year, the District 8 finals will be held on September 10 at Hank Haney’s City Pointe Golf Range, which will offer the chance to see Texas’ biggest golf bashers really punish those little white balls. The winner will earn a spot in the national finals next month in Nevada—and a chance to win $100,000.
Sellinger himself earned national titles in 1986 and 1991 (his longest drive came in 1992 at a whopping 407 yards), but he saw an opportunity to take the competition to a different level. “I had been on the old National Long Drive Championship and thought it had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t well run or marketed,” he says.
When the event folded in 1993, Sellinger seized his chance to form his own circuit, recruiting a national title sponsor, partnering with ESPN to get the event aired on a tape-delayed basis, and taking the finals under the lights, something that had never been tried before. “That was the biggest gamble I had ever taken in my life,” he says, “but under the lights you can really see the ball soaring into the sky.”
The gamble paid off. Today, Sellinger’s company grosses more than $5 million a year, with a retail store in Southlake and 16 employees. “I’m a businessman 80 percent of the time and a golf performer 20 percent,” he says. “But we do want to put on a good show.”
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME
It would have been hard not to notice the silver Porsche Carrera convertible on southbound Central Expressway just north of the Knox-Henderson exit. The top was down (of course). The license plate was oh-so-sophisticated: 4 MOI. And though the car is registered to a certain Anthony R. Militello, the driver was a stylish blond woman with Gucci-style sunglasses perched atop her golden locks. It was clear that such a rarefied woman driving such a spectacular vehicle wouldn’t dream of sullying her ashtray, but even we weren’t prepared for the lady’s grand maneuver for littering our streets. She held her left arm aloft, fully extended above her head, and held it for a couple of seconds for all to see. Then with all the grace and dignity befitting her regal status, she snapped her wrist and let the cigarette fly. We’re not sure how other motorists received the display, but we honked—one long, blaring honk—to voice our disapproval. The horn screamed, “Shame, shame, shame!”
What about “handsome” or “filthy rich”? Mark Cuban, an investor in local Internet search engine IceRocket.com, recently announced a search engine for blogs called BlogScour.com. Given our love of blogs (and our love of the Mavs owner), we raced to our computers and searched for “Mark Cuban.” What was the first result? A page that captured this phrase: “legendary Internet pioneer Mark Cuban.” No wonder Cubes was so breathless.
A local entrepreneur tries to build an empire around vitamin-enriched beer. No, he’s not drunk.
by Laura Kostelny
You’re more likely to meet your third wife at sushi hot spot Tei Tei than, say, have an epiphany. Nonetheless, as former software mogul, health book author, and divorcé Larry Schwartz waited for a table amid a sea of breasts and hair gel a year ago, he had his moment of clarity. See, Schwartz likes beer, but he prides himself on his fitness. And unlike anyone we have ever met knocking back cold ones, he found himself wishing for vitamins. With that, the idea for Stampede Light—beer infused with B vitamins—was born. Next month, Schwartz’s creation hits stores, along with a tie-in reality show, a goofy eBay auction, and a partnership of sorts with geriatric Real Worlder Puck.
Schwartz recruited Pete Slosberg (the guy behind Pete’s Wicked Ale) and Joseph Owades (the guy who created light beer) and raised capital. Lots and lots of capital. He struggled with the name—he originally wanted something that conveyed the vitamin-y nature of the beer, but the FDA poured cold water on that. So Schwartz settled on Stampede Light, but not because it’s synonymous with raging, panicked cattle. “The name suggests movement, action,” he says. “Something Southwestern—rough and tumble.”
But he didn’t stop there. He partnered with reality star rep Russ Lowry and the National Lampoon Network to create a show called Six Pack (no, not the small-screen version of a Kenny Rogers movie). The show documents Stampede from inception to completion, concentrates on Schwartz’s life as a single dad (“I used to be on a warpath, but my investors asked me to scale that part back”), and will culminate in a sort of Wild On Dallas-based bar crawl/beer launch emceed by Puck.
But—dare we ask—why Puck? “I wanted someone wild,” Schwartz says. “Someone who would almost get a tattoo for us. I told him, ‘You’re a nut and this is alcohol.’ But Puck said, ‘Listen, I get paid for my act.’” In the end, one lucky winner of an eBay auction will play co-host with Puck. For how long, we wonder. “They can come live with us for a month,” Lowry replies. We may be drunk, but we think he might be serious.
Art of the Cover: In the lingo of the biz, the new Our Lady Peace album “drops” August 30. Healthy in Paranoid Times is the sixth studio recording from the band that has sold more than 6 million records. But who cares? Our Lady Peace is from Toronto. No, what interests us is the cover art, which was created by Dallas artist and UNT grad Grant D. Smith. Nearly 10 years ago, Smith was working for a sports memorabilia store at what was then called the Ballpark in Arlington when OLP drummer Jeremy Taggart came in and bought a baseball signed by Cy Young. The two became friends, and now Smith sometimes travels with the band. You can see more of Smith’s work at www.grant9smith.com. —Tim Rogers
Quick takes on new releases from local folks.
1 Prolific author Carlton Stowers scores with Where Dreams Die Hard ($22.95, Da Capo Press), a loving story about high school football—this being the six-man version—that’s a warm cross between Hoosiers and The Bad News Bears. Stowers writes about the town of Penelope (pop. 211), about an hour’s drive south of Dallas, that started the team just four years ago. That first Wolverine practice attracted just 12 boys, though three more showed up after harvesting the summer grain crop. And when the school board voted two seasons later to build a new stadium, the district picked up hand-me-down goalposts from the Covington District, just outside of Fort Worth. Wins are few and far between—but that doesn’t keep Stowers from getting at the essence of what a team can mean to a community.
2 There’s little salvation in Melanie Wells’ debut novel When the Day of Evil Comes ($12.99, Multnomah). The “creative Christian therapist” weaves a creepy tale of good versus evil, heaven versus hell. But the real sin here is the pared-down style Wells tries to effect. It’s too much to ask a young author to master the spare yet powerful bursts of, say, Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” but it’s passages like this that make the reader pray for relief: “The food was good. Few things in the world sing to my heart like picnic food. Especially good fried chicken, and I knew Helene had fried this chicken herself.”
3 We’ll admit that we’re crazy for cookbooks, so it’s a joy to find Creating Comfort ($30), which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Genesis Women’s Shelter. The mix of diverse dishes is a pleasure to flip through, and even we think we can handle these instructions. And who doesn’t want to sample Mary Kay Ash’s Jalapeño Chile Dressing?