Saturday, April 20, 2024 Apr 20, 2024
48° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Restaurants & Bars

How The Grapevine Moved Its Dive Bar Attitude to the Medical District

The beloved Grapevine pulled off a nearly impossible task: moving to a new location while bringing three decades of history with it.
|
Image
Ronny and Michelle Honea inside the new Grapevine Bar. Most of the decorations and furniture were collected by Michelle, who usually sourced from yard sales and Facebook Marketplace.

The move had been a long time coming. For years, Michelle and Ronny Honea knew they’d one day leave the beloved pink terra-cotta building on Maple Avenue, where they had spent almost 30 years running The Grapevine Bar. Michelle opened The Grapevine in 1996 with her first husband, Richard Fiaschetti, and ran the bar with him until he died, in 2003. Ronny, a friend of Richard’s, came back to Texas after Richard passed. 

When Richard died, there were rumors that The Grapevine would die with him. Michelle never planned to close, even after selling the property in 2022, but she would relocate. She and Ronny announced in May that they were moving to the former Redfield’s Neighborhood Tavern space on Butler Street in the Medical District. The Honeas, along with their staff, spent six weeks renovating and decorating the place, which is almost seven times bigger than the original location. The task was daunting, they say, but it’s impressive how they managed to fill every corner with the old Grapevine charm.  

Not long after the official reopening in October, Michelle sits on a stool at the corner of the bar and swivels her head to look at the room. She is especially proud of the lighting. The bar is dark—as a dive should be—save for the glow of illuminated red, blue, yellow, and orange orbs around the room. She spent hours perfecting where the bulbs would go so the balance of colors was just right. Red here, blue there. 

Ronny points at a lamp dangling from the ceiling with a flickering purple bulb. “There’s a light you need to fix right there,” he says.

“OK,” Michelle says and then pauses. “So, this place is definitely haunted.” 

Although she’s witnessed flashes of light darting across the room and voices calling out to her, she says the energy is strangely endearing. To her, it feels familiar. “Maple was haunted, too.” 

In one of her notebooks, Michelle has a page filled with scribblings of similarities between the new and old incarnations of The Grapevine. In addition to being haunted, both opened in transitional neighborhoods. The Maple Avenue location was across the street from Old Parkland Hospital; the new spot is right by the new Parkland Hospital. And then there were the stumps. 

The stump stools in the new location, however, will never compare to the original stump. The old Grapevine was a Herrera’s Mexican Cafe in a previous life, and it started out as a tiny building that later absorbed parts of Maple Avenue. Because of that, in the poolroom of The Grapevine, between the main bar and the outdoor patio, there was the remainder of a hacked-down light pole. Michelle says she became attached to the thing and refused to remove it, so the team tried to creatively arrange chairs around the stump so folks wouldn’t trip and fall. 

When it was time to vacate the Maple location, the team took as much as they could with them. What they couldn’t or didn’t want to take they tried to donate. Ronny says he sold the “Watch out for Flying Balls” signs from around the basketball court for upwards of $150. Michelle sold bricks and chunks of stucco. It seemed a lot of customers wanted a piece of The Grapevine. 

One former customer messaged Michelle on Facebook and told her that, years ago, he and his friends were playing pool, got hungry, and ordered a pizza to be delivered to the bar. As soon as it got there, the friends dropped the entire pie on the floor. But they were so drunk, they ate it anyway. To commemorate that night of debauchery, he wanted a few of those poolroom tiles.  

“I was like, ‘Sure. Why not?’” Michelle says. 

She understood the request because, of course, she wanted that stub of the old light pole. Right up until the Honeas turned over the keys, she was playing tug of war with longtime barback Marie Alicia Gomez—better known as “Mama” to Grapevine die-hards—for the rights to it. 

“The stump is in the entryway of our house now,” Michelle says. “I was like, ‘You can have whatever else you want, but you can’t have this stump.’ ”

Even without the original stump, the new spot feels very much like its predecessor. Couches and dusty-colored chairs crowd around small tables. The old thrifted glassware is stacked behind the bar. And the basketball court has been busy with tipsy jumpers since October. 

But there are differences. Ronny’s friend donated giant collages of clippings from magazines and newspapers. The floor-to-ceiling pieces are scattered all over and cozy up the space. There’s even a stage for live music—inside and outside. The patio is sprawling, with two sections of picnic tables and chairs that wrap around the outdoor bar. 

The potential at this new spot is so much greater, Ronny and Michelle say. Karaoke nights, bar food, bigger events. So, no, The Grapevine Bar isn’t done yet. The Honeas are certain because that longevity was put to the test when longtime customers walked through the door for the first time. 

“They were scared they weren’t going to have the same feeling,” Ronny says. “But after walking in here, they feel like it’s The Grapevine.”

Author

Nataly Keomoungkhoun

Nataly Keomoungkhoun

View Profile
Nataly Keomoungkhoun joined D Magazine as the online dining editor in 2022. She previously worked at the Dallas Morning News,…

Related Articles

Image
Restaurants & Bars

Where to Find the Best Italian Food in Dallas

From the Tuscan countryside to New York-inspired red sauce joints, we recommend the best of every variety of Italian food available in North Texas.
Image
Restaurants & Bars

Two Interviews Last Week Revealed the Identity Crisis in Dallas Food Culture

One focused on a bakery that spent almost nothing to create a nationally-acclaimed product. The other focused on a restaurant that spent $11.5 million to sell uncountable margaritas—and terrible food.
Image
Business

How a DFW College Student Is Building a Multimillion-dollar Restaurant Marketing Platform 

Anisha Holla, a 21-year-old UTD student, has built FoodiFy, a dating app for restaurant owners and influencers. She already boasts 25 local restaurant clients.
Advertisement