A trendy new food park is in the works, in what promises to be an epic setting, featuring some of Dallas' culinary rock stars. Called The Shacks, it will debut in April at Austin Ranch, the master-planned community built by the Billingsley Company in The Colony, one mile west of the North Dallas Tollway and just south of SH 121.
Restaurants already signed on include Ten Ramen, the ramen concept from chef Teiichi Sakurai; OMG Tacos, the hipster fusion taqueria founded by Calvin Nguyen; Tackle Box, a Louisiana-style seafood spot from the owners of Pier 247 in Oak Cliff; and a burger restaurant called Dirty Burger Bar.
Two more concepts are still to be revealed.
Located at the southeast corner of Windhaven Parkway and Plano Parkway, not far from the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart, The Shacks represents a one-of-a-kind amenity not only to the 5,000-plus residents at Austin Ranch, but also to the surging corporate community nearby, with companies such as JC Penney, Frito-Lay, and the Toyota headquarters under construction.
Given the caliber of the restaurants announced, the complex also has the potential to draw customers from across Collin County, especially after you factor in its unparalleled naturalistic setting. Positioned on the shore of Indian Creek, The Shacks sits on a natural floodplain and is surrounded by huge, mature cedar and oak trees.
Lucy Billingsley, partner at Billingsley Co., says that they wanted to create a place that would build a sense of community at Austin Ranch, and stand out as an alternative to the standard strip center found at most suburban developments. She was also the brains behind One Arts Plaza, whose restaurant lineup includes Tei An, the restaurant that's a sibling to Ten Ramen.
"When you come to an urban neighborhood or an older neighborhood, it’s funky and cool," she says. "You feel like it's your place. We wanted to make the most of the fabulous trees and rough terrain we have here and create a place where we would want to hang out."
There'll also be a one-acre dog park so that residents in the apartments nearby can take their dogs for a walk, grab something to eat and drink, and socialize in one convenient location. The dog park will also be available to the public through a membership program. Details have not been announced yet.
The restaurants are all well-regarded local independents, each offering a distinctive cuisine.
Ten Ramen does one of the most acclaimed ramen experiences in town, with an ever-changing selection of chef-caliber ramen bowls served in an exactingly authentic environment.
OMG Tacos wins fans for its creative fusion of Mexican and Asian flavors in dishes such as its California-style burritos, whose filling includes French fries. It elevates street tacos by serving them in a sit-down environment and stays open very late.
Tackle Box will be like a miniature version of Pier 247, the Bishop Arts spot that specializes in Louisiana seafood, with fried oyster and crawfish nachos, po-boys, and catfish sloppy Joes.
Dirty Burger Bar will focus primarily on burgers, but the menu will also include a chicken sandwich, salads, and cheese fries.
Each restaurant gets its own "shack," maxing out at a compact 800 square feet, although the decks will extend their footprint. Each one will customize its own space, with idiosyncrasy being encouraged. "This won't be one of those places where the signs are all the same," Billingsley says.
Billingsley Company has boosted activity at Austin Ranch since 2010. New multifamily developments of the Boat House and The Hudson have bolstered the area as a residential community. Office additions include Sanyo, Quest Resource Management, and AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group, a 300,000-square-foot office campus that will open in 2019.
Adding The Shacks puts Austin Ranch in line with the hottest dining trends right now. No restaurant these days opens without a patio, and food parks such as the Truck Yard on Greenville Avenue have propelled outdoor dining spaces to an all-time high in terms of popularity.
Frankie Carabetta, who owns Pier 347 with partners Cory Pope and Celia Lopez, says that Billingsley has created "something very special."
"It is a great alternative to the traditional restaurant zones you typically see in the area," he says. "Plus, the dog park will be a great attractor that makes The Shacks more than just a dining destination."