What’s the best way to reopen a restaurant during a pandemic? We may never know the answer to that question. But it’s clear that restaurateurs are trying different tactics to see what resonates with hungry consumers.
The Porch in Dallas waited it out completely, leaving its restaurant dark (and without takeout operations) while some diners speculated whether it would ever re-emerge. And soon it will.
Georgie by Curtis Stone took small steps, first selling meat at the butcher shop, then opening its patio and finally reopening the dining room.
And Glazed Donut Works came out of nowhere: The popular Deep Ellum shop has been closed since late 2018, long before restaurateurs knew to even worry about a pandemic. Its owner confirms he’s opening a pop-up shop in Deep Ellum.
Here’s information on each of the three reopenings, as well as a rundown of the most notable restaurant openings and closures at the bottom of this story.
The reopening tactic: Close completely for nearly six months, the reopen on Fridays and Saturdays, dinner only, at first.
The Porch remained closed for nearly the entire coronavirus pandemic, even as restaurants on Henderson Avenue in Dallas slowly began to reopen. The Porch finally plans to make its re-debut on Sept. 11, serving dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays, for now. (Pre-COVID-19, The Porch did swift business during weekend brunch and weekday lunch.)
The Porch is part of a fleet of restaurants owned by billionaire Tim Headington. The company decided to first focus on reopening its downtown Dallas restaurants near the Joule hotel — which the company also owns.
The Porch will sell a shorter-than-before menu that includes some of its most popular dishes, according to Jeny Bania, Headington’s senior vice president of PR and brand marketing: the spinach & parmesan dip; classic cheeseburger; and the short-rib stroganoff. “The menu is kind of like a best-of list,” she says.
The Porch has, well, a porch. It’s bound to be popular, since public health officials say dining outdoors is one of the safest ways to be in a public space, around other people, during the pandemic. Diners will also find extra outdoor seating near the front door. The indoor restaurant will be open at 50% capacity to comply with the governor’s orders.
The Porch is at 2912 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas. Starting Sept. 11, the restaurant will be open Fridays and Saturdays only. Hours are 3 to 5 p.m. at the bar; the kitchen will serve from 5 to 10 p.m. Third-party delivery from Uber Eats, Favor and DoorDash will also be available.
Georgie by Curtis Stone
The reopening tactic: Gradually add amenities, leaving the dining room as the last step.
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s Dallas steakhouse Georgie reopened Sept. 1.
Although the restaurant group operated its butcher shop for the entire pandemic, then added back patio dining and an amended menu in June, the pièce de résistance at Georgie is its dining room. That’s the place to see and be seen; it’s one of the glammiest spots near Highland Park.
The restaurant has made some changes in the past six months. Pre-pandemic, the restaurant made headlines for its $390 cut of Wagyu, but that pricey piece of beef is no longer on the menu. (That’s an awfully expensive dish to serve during a pandemic, although it did feed five to six people.) The current menu still has some splurges, like a 10-ounce New York strip priced at $210 and a 32-ounce tomahawk rib-eye for $135. Other menu items include caviar, a charcuterie board, a lobster roll, rack of lamb and a dry-aged pork chop.
Although Stone’s name is on the building, chef Toby Archibald (who worked at Bullion in Dallas and for Daniel Boulud’s restaurants in other cities) led the kitchen as the executive chef. Archibald left Georgie in early May and has been replaced with executive chef Jason Rohan, who formerly worked at another Stone property, Gwen Butcher Shop in Los Angeles.
On Sept. 1, sibling restaurant Up on Knox also reopened its dining room. Both restaurants are operated by Stephan Courseau.
Georgie by Curtis Stone is at 4514 Travis St., Dallas. The dining room is now open for dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Glazed Donut Works
The reopening tactic: Entice longtime fans with surprise pop-up events.
Glazed Donut Works opened in Deep Ellum in 2013, selling what owner Darren Cameron called “doughnuts for grown-ups,” like that famous doughnut grilled cheese that everyone in Deep Ellum seemed to crave after a few beers.
Glazed closed in 2018, and it was unclear at that time if the shop would ever reopen in Deep Ellum.
Starting Friday, Sept. 4, Cameron is doing doughnut pop-ups at the original Deep Ellum location, with the times and dates announced on social media. Customers will be able to buy in advance, online. He plans to sell hot glazed doughnuts by the dozen as well as a box of past favorites. In its first iteration, the Lucky 7 doughnut box for $17.50 comes with one crème brûlée, one banana pudding, one cold-brew-chocolate coffee cake, one red velvet, one s’mores, one maple and one classic glazed.
Other notable restaurant openings in North Texas:
- Serious Pizza in Deep Ellum has new owners: the team who operates Citizen nightclub and Vidorra restaurant. The new plan calls for a “vibrant experience” in the restaurant and a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays. The reopening date has not been announced.
- Greenville Avenue Pizza Company (GAPCo) is opening a restaurant in Richardson this winter. The restaurant will be the third GAPCo in D-FW, and the biggest, at 3,700 square feet. It will open at 520 Lockwood Drive, Richardson.
- Elm & Good opened in Deep Ellum’s Pittman Hotel, with chef Graham Dodds in the kitchen. Dodds formerly worked at Hibiscus, Bolsa, The Grape and more.
- True Kitchen + Kocktails opened in downtown Dallas on Aug. 21. Its owner describes it as “elevated comfort food.”
- Biscuit Bar opened its fifth restaurant in North Texas in Fort Worth on Aug. 26. The fast-casual restaurant — popular for brunch — is known for its extensive biscuit menu, including hot chicken on a biscuit, pulled pork on a biscuit, a philly cheesesteak on a biscuit and more. There’s an entire section of the menu dedicated to loaded tater tots.
- Marugame Udon started serving Japanese noodle dishes and katsu sandos on Aug. 31 in Carrollton. Keep an eye on this restaurant; its operators are former Pei Wei execs who plan to grow it across North Texas.
- LaVui Vietnamese Restaurant, a sibling to Oishii sushi bar, opened Sept. 2 on Maple Avenue in Dallas.
- Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon-roll shop made famous on Shark Tank, opens its latest restaurant in Addison on Sept. 4 at 5100 Belt Line Road.
- Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, a restaurant we called one of the “most exciting restaurants opening in Dallas in 2020″ opens in Dallas Sept. 17, after being delayed by the pandemic. The restaurant got this close to opening, even throwing a glitzy pre-opening party on March 7 that was attended by local celebrities including some of the Real Housewives of Dallas. The plan was to open a few weeks later in March … and we all know what happened a few weeks later in March.
Recent restaurant closures in North Texas:
- Savor closed in Klyde Warren Park. It’s the only restaurant that resides inside the park. That revenue, now gone, is “critical” to the park’s bottom line.
- Nazca Kitchen closed at The Hill, the development at the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Central Expressway in Dallas. The owners say in a Facebook post that “COVID-19 got the best of us.” The South American restaurant was known for its healthy options.
- Taco Stop in the Dallas Design District closed in late August. Owner Emilia Flores says in a press release that foot traffic “comprised a significant volume of Taco Stop’s customer base,” and that missing customer base contributed to its closure. The restaurant held a coat drive in the wintertime with a motto “if you are cold, take one; if you want to help, leave one.” Flores and her team also fed healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a sweet story from our partners at NBC5.
- A swath of restaurants at Trinity Groves have closed, including Amberjax Fish Market Grille and The Hall.
- Nosh Bistro, formerly an Avner Samuel restaurant that came under new ownership in early 2020, closed in August. Refined Hospitality Concepts plans to turn it into a Primo’s MX Kitchen & Lounge. The company says in a statement that “the pandemic changed the landscape” and they believe Primo’s is a “better fit.”