After nearly 40 years, the Black Eyed Pea on Cedar Springs Road is closing, to be replaced by a new concept from restaurateur Gene Street. The final hour for the Black Eyed Pea is January 2, at 10 pm.
Going into the space will be Street's Fine Chicken, a chicken-themed restaurant from Street and his offspring, including Gene, Jr., Marco, and nephew Tony.
According to Lone Star Q, the closure was announced on January 1 via a note taped in the window of the restaurant; a customer said that the staff found out about the closure on the same day.
Gene Street founded Black-Eyed Pea in 1975, and the Cedar Springs location was the very first.
"I went by yesterday and I couldn't even get near the door," he says. "I've had that property for 40 years. We wanted to do our own thing there. Black Eyed Pea hasn't been my place since I sold it in 1986. But after all these years, it is very sad."
Street sold the chain to Phoenix Restaurant Group; the present owner is Restaurants Acquisition I of Arlington, which operates 15 branches in Texas, including one at Coit and Belt Line, two in Arlington, one in Hurst, and one in Fort Worth, as well as the Dixie House in Lakewood.
The Streets' new concept does chicken three ways.
"We're doing fried chicken, with all the magic buzzwords," Gene says. "Brined for 24 hours, and the chickens died gently. We are also doing a roasted chicken, that we roast and then run through an oven with fire on the top that really singes the skin. Also, a grill with pecan or oak, we don't know yet, to make a peri peri grilled chicken. We'll have eight sides and one dessert. It's pretty limited, but we'll have table service, and a full bar."
He says he's been wanting to do a chicken concept for a long time.
"I almost did a chicken place before I did the Black Eyed Pea," he says. "I don’t eat a lot of burgers and I'm not a big fish eater, but I like grilled and fried chicken."
He also wanted something he could do with his children.
"Our big debate is that I wanted to do biscuits, but the kids won, and we're going to do hot rolls," he says. "But it'll be the original roll recipe from Black Eyed Pea, those were good. We've been working on recipes for two years. And since we're in that location, we're also going to have a Black Eyed Pea side dish. And one neat item I'm going to do is my chicken-fried steak, cooked on a flat-top grill like we used to do at the Black Eyed Pea. I think it makes a difference."
Street went to the restaurant on Saturday morning to check in on the final day.
"We've got all these old church pews, we gave one to a regular customer and another who asked for the old Black Eyed Pea 'to go' sign, we're not going to have any use for those," he says. "I've been a restaurateur for 43 years, I loved getting up this morning and going down and talking to these people."