Owners Diane and Justin Fourton have signed a lease with Deep Ellum kingpin-savior Scott Rohrman for a spot on Main Street, where they'll relocate from their stand at the Dallas Farmers Market. The Fourtons went through months of careful deliberation before coming to a decision.
"Right now, we just have a sense of relief," Diane says.
"This was an opportunity to have our own standalone place," says co-owner Diane Fourton. "It gives us a chance to start from scratch."
Their decision came out of a desire to graduate from a stand at the market to their own location.
"This was an opportunity to have our own standalone place," she says. "It gives us a chance to start from scratch. We like the location; it has all the stuff we need. There’s plenty of room for our smokers, and parking, and it has some trees out front.
"And that neighborhood has a special place in my heart. I spent a lot of time there when I was young."
Their relocation is a watershed event, due not only to the beneficial effect they would have on any neighborhood, but also because of what it says about the location they're leaving and the one they're going to.
Pecan Lodge is the kind of legendary success story every entrepreneur dreams about. The Fourtons left their jobs in the corporate world to open an barbecue stand. People loved their brisket; lines formed. Daniel "BBQ Snob" Vaughn gave them five stars; the lines got longer. Diners, Driveins and Dives gave them a loving profile; the lines got longer still. Texas Monthly issued its list of the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas, putting Pecan Lodge in the top four.
The current wait is up to two hours on weekends.
Their move comes at a key time when the farmers market is undertaking a massive overhaul of its mission and identity. The market's new management team worked hard to keep its most famous tenant but could not offer what the Fourtons needed.
"The Farmers Market folks have been genuinely trying their best," Diane says. "I think they were unfairly vilified during the process, but they did what they were supposed to do. For us, it came down to the fact that we wanted to be able to have our own space. We wish the Farmers Market well; we want them to succeed. But at the end of the day, we wanted a standalone place."
Mayors from three surrounding cities approached the Fourtons with offers, including an attractive one from the city of Carrollton.
"They were extremely gracious, but they understand why we made the decision we did," Diane says. "Deep Ellum is super close to where we are, and that was important to our customers."
The Fourtons' choice of Deep Ellum solidifies the neighborhood's continuing revival, with transfusions from new businesses such as Common Desk and Deep Ellum Postal & Grocer. It's also emerging as a hot restaurant destination, and it has become the go-to spot for hot national trends such as ramen and designer doughnuts.
Oddly, it will now be home to
three four Guy Fieri-approved restaurants, with Pecan Lodge joining DD&D brethren Pepe & Mito's, Cane Rosso and Twisted Root.
The Fourtons don't know yet when they'll make the move. While construction gets underway, they'll stay open regular hours at the market. "It might be next summer – we're still figuring that out," Diane says.