As if she didn't have enough irons in the fire, bar owner and restaurateur Brooke Humphries is opening a new concept at the corner of Ross and Greenville avenues called Pints & Quarts, where she'll serve gourmet burgers and beer.
If that cuisine doesn't sound revolutionary, keep in mind that Greenville Avenue does not currently have a burger-centric place; more significant, Pints & Quarts is going into the space that was for many years a discount tire shop.
"I've always had my eye on this place," says Humphries, whose retinue of businesses includes Barcadia, Beauty Bar, It'll Do and Mudsmith. "Greenville Avenue has become such an authentic street. Starting at Richmond, it's almost all Dallas-owned and -operated businesses.
"The décor will be a 1950s gas station burger stand, and it'll be period-correct," Brooke Humphries says. "One thing I always do is choose a period and stick with it."
"We have Mudsmith, our coffee shop. You have homemade sausage and meats at Blind Butcher. You have Dude, Sweet Chocolate and pizza at Project Pie coming. But it had no fast-casual burger."
This is not to say that burgers cannot be found on Greenville Avenue. But her point of reference is Off-Site Kitchen, Nick Badovinus' burger joint in the Dallas Design District.
"I take one of my cars to Firestone across the street. I've been going to Carlos for 15 years, and I want to sell a burger he will come by for, but that the suit-and-tie will come by for too," she says. "One thing we don't lack here is burgers, but it's all the same burger. Off-Site Kitchen is reasonably priced; it's delicious and you're in and out. There's nothing like that on this side of town."
She's consulted with a few folks and is working on a menu that she describes as limited. "It'll be super simple. I don't even know if there'll be 20 items," she says. "Flat-top dogs and burgers and drinks. Here's where it gets real tricky: We're going to do everything fresh. I don't even have a freezer onsite.
"I'm humble enough to know that what I'm trying to pull off will be one of the hardest things I've ever done," she says. "To pull off a fast-casual burger, in and out for under $10, serving beer with a great patio, over and over consistently like an Off-Site Kitchen or a Shake Shack, it keeps me awake at night."
But construction is more than half done, with a targeted opening date of late spring and a retro theme.
"The décor will be a 1950s gas station burger stand, and it'll be period-correct, with curves and windows and seating," she says. "One thing I always do is choose a period and stick with it. Beauty Bar is '60s. It'll Do is '70s. Barcadia is '80s. This will be similar to a burger stand my grandfather took me to when I was young in Jacksboro, Texas."
Her transformation of the space represents not only the extension of the Greenville Avenue corridor, but also another dose of gentrification on Ross Avenue, which is being developed at a rapid pace on the downtown edge, with the construction of one apartment complex after another.
It follows her pattern of settling into spots whose untapped potential has eluded others, such as Beauty Bar's odd wedge-shaped building or the emerging New East Elm district where It'll Do resides, behind Peak & Elm restaurant. It's brought her four branches of Barcadia, in Dallas, Fort Worth, New Orleans and Baton Rouge; and a second branch of Mudsmith opening in downtown Dallas in mid-2015.
"I know everything I do is a little off-kilter compared to some of my operator friends," Humphries says. "Like choosing locations that not everybody in the world would choose. I guess it's an extension of my New York years, the hustle and the risk-taking, being on the edge of the cliff.
"I knew this would be a pickle because it's a tire shop. Let's keep it real."