UPDATE 8-16-2021: Joyous news, Sylvan Avenue Tavern is now open. Owner Joe Hinkson says that the new menu items are a hit "and the place looks awesome."
Bryan Street Tavern, an East Dallas bar with a devoted following in its neighborhood and beyond, is birthing a spinoff: Called Sylvan Avenue Tavern, it'll open at Sylvan Thirty, the West Dallas complex off I-30, where it will bring BST trademarks such as great pizza, beer on tap, and a laid-back atmosphere with pool tables and outdoor space.
Sylvan Avenue Tavern will be located at 1888 Sylvan Ave. #F250, in a second-story space that was previously home to a yoga place. Owner Joe Hinkson says they hope to be open by early summer.
Bryan Street's formula might seem simple — pizza, craft beer, live music, pool, darts, shuffleboard, sports on TV, a pet-friendly patio — but doing simple well is not always as easy as it looks. There's something both swaggering and unassuming about the place that's very charming.
With its welcoming vibe, BST has amassed a following not only among residents nearby but anyone in search of an easygoing watering hole.
"This East Dallas bar is almost a dive — it certainly looks like one from the outside — but the spacious interior holds more than expected," wrote CultureMap's Bar Reporter Jonathan Rienstra back in 2013. "You have your pool tables and shuffleboards and darts and foosball, all waiting for a Bar Olympics to be had, as you munch on thin-crust pizzas and Buffalo wings and sip one of the many craft beers."
The Sylvan location has been in the works since 2019, with the COVID-19 shutdown adding more than a year's delay in getting the required permits to begin construction. (The original closed for a couple of months in mid-2020, but Hinkson was able to hang on through the pandemic, thanks to PPP loans from the government and obtaining permission to operate as a restaurant.)
"We came close to opening a location in Flower Mound a few years ago but it didn't work out," Hinkson says. "The folks at Syvlan Thirty approached us and said they wanted something like Bryan Street Tavern, and we liked the space."
The new bar will duplicate Bryan Street Tavern's mojo but they'll make it "a little more shiny," Hinkson says. That includes brunch as well as heavy activation of the second-story patio. "We've always had an outdoor presence, and that has become increasingly important since COVID," he says.
"We're super-excited about this," he says. "Nearby areas like Bishop Arts and Oak Cliff have restaurants and bars, but at night, Sylvan Thirty doesn't have a lot of options. Tacodeli closes early. There's Jettison and Cibo Divino, but they do different things from what we do."
Bryan Street Tavern was originally founded by hospitality veterans Joe Tillotson and Buddy Cramer in 2009. Hinkson, who also has a separate career in construction and working with FEMA on disaster recovery, took over in 2011.
"We're kind of a hidden gem," he says. "The Bryan Street area has changed dramatically in the past few years, but when BST first opened, the neighborhood was not very pretentious. We ended up attracting a very diverse clientele, and we don't cater to a single niche."
They've also gone to great lengths to make their food be something more than typical bar food. Sylvan Street Tavern will have their same pizza, same wings, same scratch food, but he says they'll also add a couple of new items.
"We just won a 'Best Pizza in DFW' award," he says. "We roll our own pizza dough. We make our own ranch dressing. Nothing we use comes from a can or bottle. Add the quality of our food and the fact that everybody feels comfortable in here, no matter who you are."