An update from the front in the War of Lowest Greenville: The forthcoming Blind Butcher restaurant can stay open until 2 am. Sort of.
On July 25, the Dallas City Plan Commission agreed with Blind Butcher's owners about the hours of operation for the inside and front patio. But it also accommodated some nearby residents regarding the hours on the back patio by decreeing that it shall close at midnight.
Therefore, on August 28, Blind Butcher owners Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling, who also own Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House, will ask the Dallas City Council to overrule the commission's recommendations about the back patio. That's also about when the Blind Butcher is scheduled to open.
"I don't want to give the suggestion that we're totally up in arms about it," says owner Matt Tobin. "We want to be good neighbors."
"I don't want to give the suggestion that we're totally up in arms about it," Tobin says about the commission's recommendations. "We want to be good neighbors, and sometimes when you get into situations like this, there seems to be some Jerry Springer-type nonsense to it. We don’t want any of that."
What does the Blind Butcher want? To present a glorious selection of cured meats and sausages and fine beer, without the late-night nonsense that plagued Lower Greenville in the past. The back patio is about 2,100 square feet, the inside slightly smaller. But half of that inside space will be swallowed by a new kitchen. Tobin says he has no plans for music on the back patio and that the closest house is more than a football field away.
In 2011, after complaints of noise, crime, and the voluntary and involuntary dismissal of liquefied substances from both ends of the human body, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance affecting businesses in Lower Greenville, from bars and restaurants to 7-Eleven. If you don’t have a specific use permit and a certificate of occupancy and you're open past midnight, you turn into a misdemeanor pumpkin.
The opposition to the Blind Butcher at the commission meeting wasn't as fierce as the civic fights over the neighborhood several years ago. Tobin says he counted more than 50 supporters from the neighborhood, compared to less than 10 against. But even though the new and upscale Lower Greenville will not be your drunky drunk's Lower Greenville, some tension remains.
"One of the guys from the opposition called me on the phone and asked me, 'Why do you want to keep your business open until 2 am?'" Tobin says. “I said, 'Because the state of Texas says we can.' And then he asked me, 'Can't you make enough money by closing at midnight?' How much is 'enough money'? I don’t even know what that means. We're a business. Why are you trying to limit our earning potential?"
"We're not going to be like the Service Bar. Not at all," Tobin says.
An interesting wrinkle is that the Dallas councilmember the Blind Butcher is lobbying to help overturn the Plan Commission’s recommendation is newly elected Philip Kingston. In 2011, Kingston represented the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association and asked the city council to refuse specific use permits for the now-closed Service Bar — which was in the space the Blind Butcher will fill — and the now-closed Yucatan bar a couple doors down.
Tobin says he doesn’t know how Kingston will lean this time. "I've spoken to him on numerous occasions in the past. He seems to be a fairly open kind of guy," Tobin says. "He wants what's best for his district, and we understand that.
"But we're not going to be like the Service Bar. Not at all. When you price something on your menu accordingly, you get a certain crowd. You can very much control what kind of crowd you get. We're not going to be expensive, per se, but we're not going to be selling $2 or $3 beers."
Tobin says his current restaurant has never had negative feedback from neighbors, some of whom live closer to the building than any house near the Blind Butcher.
"At Goodfriend's, we have a home right next door to us," he says. "From our front door, it is 120 feet to their front yard, and we've had no complaints. Our business has not been an issue, and they're not even customers of ours. We have Monopoly Place [rental duplexes] right there. The owner loves us. I live across the street from Goodfriend's. I walk to work every day.
"I'm about as far away as the people are to the Blind Butcher; my wife and I are raising two little kids. Obviously I'm totally biased here, but I don't ever hear it. I don't work weekends, and I never hear anything going on over there."