Madame Butterfly's Garden Cafe is a new canteen in Fair Park that is, for now, temporary. But cross your fingers, because it may become permanent.
The snackery, located at Texas Discovery Gardens, has a healthy bent, serving smoothies, sandwiches and fruit. Executive director Dick Davis says the eatery is operating on a trial basis. If it does well enough, the cafe's lifespan will be extended.
"This is something the board has wanted for quite a while, and this year we finally got it off the ground," he says. "In our lobby, during the State Fair, we have a kiosk set up. You place your order there, then go into our grand hall and pick up your food and drink."
The facility, on MLK Boulevard where it dead-ends into the west side of the park, has its own private parking lot. Davis and staff hope the cafe can stay open year-round.
"When the State Fair is not in session, there’s no place on Fair Park proper to get a decent meal," Davis says. "We do have The Old Mill Inn, but it's not a destination for many people. Fair Park is a little off the beaten path, unless you’re coming to a museum or the State Fair.
"But there's quite a few people who work here year-round. I don't know how many employees that is, but a lot of museums around Dallas and the state have cafes or snack bars in their facilities. We're interested in exploring that possibility both from a customer service perspective and from a revenue stream perspective."
For now the food is prepared off-site and brought in. Sandwiches are all $6 and include Waldorf chicken, tuna and turkey. There's half a dozen smoothies, plus fruit cups and granola parfaits.
"We’re a popular wedding venue, and we have a lady who helps us rent our venue for weddings and other special events," Davis says. "She is connected with well-known caterers who provide food for our special events. She also has her own kitchen. During the fair, we're buying our fresh food from her. And then we've partnered with Smoothie Factory and Community Coffee to feature their products during the fair."
"We're pretty happy with the business so far," Davis says. "Many people come here to the Butterfly House. That’s how we got the name, Madam Butterfly's Garden Cafe."
Texas Discovery Gardens is a year-round, 8-acre organic public garden that's home to Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House — a massive butterfly display that includes daily talks on butterflies. "Pupae (chrysalises) are shipped in weekly from local farms in the U.S., El Salvador, Colombia, the Philippines and Malaysia," reads the website. Oh dear. And the facility just added a new Snakesss of Texasss exhibit. The topic: snakes.