You may have heard that Deep Ellum is rife with dining options; well, there's no stopping it now. In the latest batch of openings, from artisan doughnuts to ramen noodles to urban grocer, Deep Ellum is asserting its role as Dallas' culinary go-to.
Glazed Donut Works opened in August, escorting a national foodie trend to the 'hood. Coming this fall is Tanoshii Ramen, a dedicated ramen shop going into the old Baker's Ribs spot, plus a second branch of hot-dog-and-custard shop Wild About Harry's, opening at Hall and Commerce streets. Urban market Deep Ellum Postal & Grocer opened in August, and there's more foodstuffs in the works.
"Being in that area allows us to do something more innovative than what we'd do elsewhere," says Chi Le, owner of coming-soon Tanoshii Ramen.
For Tanoshii owners Joey and Chi Le, Deep Ellum was their No. 1 choice. The couple owns Wicked Po' Boys, a New Orleans-style sandwich shop with branches in Dallas and Richardson. But Tanoshii is something different: a ramen shop like those in Tokyo, lately cropping up in major cities like Los Angeles and New York.
"I think Deep Ellum still represents a free-spirited, fun, anything-goes philosophy," says Chi. "Being in that area allows us to do something more innovative than what we'd do elsewhere. With something like ramen, Deep Ellum is the perfect place."
Wild About Harry's owner Harry Coley and his daughter Sydney Berglund had their eye on Deep Ellum for more than a year. "I'm so excited," Berglund says. "I was a Deep Ellum kid in the '80s, so for me it's a comfortable place."
The neighborhood's emerging status is a key part of why she and her father like it. "It's not like us to go into an area that's already thriving," she says. "When we opened on Knox Street 17 years ago, it was nothing like what it is now. We want to grow with the neighborhood."
Scott Rohrman, the beneficial developer who bought a large swath of 34 properties in Deep Ellum in late 2012, charts the neighborhood's turnaround by the increasing number of applicants he's seeing. "We've said no to more tenants than we can count," he says. As in restaurant chains?
"We're not saying a chain could never come in, but we are focused on local, chef-driven restaurants, artisan shops and art galleries," he says. "We're thinking about community enhancement. If you recognize that Deep Ellum is a community, the rest will follow."
Darren Cameron, co-owner of Glazed Donut, always saw Deep Ellum as the right location for a trendy doughnut shop but has been struck by the community. "There's a real sense of neighborhood, of everybody looking out for each other," he says. "The folks who moved in around us – Anvil Pub, Twilite Lounge, Fuzzy's – those guys are like our pals."
At Deep Ellum P&G, owner Brandon Castillo is selling everything from Pringles to gourmet Wackym's cookies. For him, Deep Ellum is no longer just a place to go at night for live music.
"It's one of my personal missions to create more activity during the day," he says. "It's why I did this market and grocery."