No More Chowder

Greenville Avenue seafood institution pulls up anchor

Greenville Avenue seafood institution pulls up anchor

Daddy Jack's, seafood
You have until May to enjoy Daddy Jack's. Photo courtesy of Daddy Jack's

In what can only be called the end of an era, the original Daddy Jack's on Greenville Avenue is closing. Its closure comes on the heels of similar news about the Crown & the Harp next door, which is also closing, due to the building they're in being sold.

A spokesperson for Daddy Jack's confirmed that it would close on May 6.

The restaurant has been serving New England-style seafood since 1993. Owner Jack Chaplin, who'd been chef at the Fairmont Hotel, re-created the kind of New England chowder house he'd grown up around as a native of Connecticut. "As a boy, I spent my summers helping my grandmother prepare the lobsters and other seafood we caught off the family's homeplace in Nova Scotia," Chaplin says.

The restaurant was not only an early Greenville Avenue settler, it also provided a culinary counterpoint to the Cajun-style seafood joints that dominate the local dining landscape. It was among the first to make lobster a common thing, decades before the current lobster roll trend.

Most Daddy Jack's entrees feature a bountiful piece of fish, sided with a baked potato and steamed vegetables — a nothing-fancy simplicity that's old-school New England. The signature dish is fish topped with a "stuffing" made from Ritz cracker crumbs bound with butter. In Boston, the fish of choice would be cod, but it works on any fish.

In the '90s, the concept underwent expansion, with branches in Deep Ellum, Coppell, Frisco, and Southlake. Those closed, but there's a branch in Fort Worth with different owners, which will remain open.

Chaplin moved back to New England, where he opened a branch in his hometown of New London, Connecticut, which earned a review from The New York Times. But he still owned a piece of the restaurant on Greenville Avenue, as well as the property where it was located, along with the building that was Crown and Harp.

Given what's happening on Greenville Avenue, he decided it was time to sell.

"That whole area has changed so much," he says. "Real estate in that area is going out of sight. You can make a living owning a restaurant, but you don't have a retirement plan."

Times have also changed in the restaurant world. "Daddy Jack's had the surf and turf, the crab legs, and a great wait staff, but with rents the way they are, you couldn't open something like that now," he says. "It was awesome to be a part of something successful."