An independently owned restaurant in Dallas' Oak Cliff has been felled by the cursed pandemic: Victor Hugo's, the New American bistro at 1115 N. Beckley Ave., will close for good on May 30.
Husband-and-wife Victor Hugo and Brianna Ruelas made the difficult decision to close after nearly seven years in business.
"The pandemic took a heavy toll on the restaurant industry, and our family-owned business held on as long as we could," Hugo said in a statement.
Victor Hugo's was the quintessential neighborhood restaurant, earning a following for its chef-driven food with a menu that included quesadillas with brie, bacon, and mushroom; Akaushi beef tenderloin tips with tagliatelle pasta, mushrooms, English peas; and Texas wagyu burger on a kaiser roll with bacon, fontina, and avocado.
Hugo worked primarily for the Lombardi's group at Bistro 31 in Highland Park Village, before founding his own place, in a location next to Johnathan's and Spiral Diner that had been home to a variety of restaurants such as Outpost Tavern and an Argentinian restaurant called La Carreta, before VH brought some continuity.
Ruelas says that, despite the fact that COVID-19 seems to have slightly turned the corner, it was too little too late.
"Things were looking up, but the damage has been done," she says. "It's been such an uphill battle, and we're about to hit the summer. You know what Dallas summers look like for restaurants. Everyone travels."
"But that's just part of it," she says. "The pandemic really hit us hard. We're a small joint off the beaten path. People have to know about us to come. We just weren't able to sustain through the pandemic."
The couple, who live in Richardson, already had another restaurant in the works, which they'd originally planned to open in 2019. They'd completed about 75 percent of the construction when COVID-19 hit.
"Victor wants to get closer to home in Richardson," Ruelas says. "We hope to eventually open in Richardson, but we don't even know what that's going to look like. Things have changed so dramatically in the industry right now. The pandemic is forcing everyone to get a little more creative and approach things differently."
That includes a big increase in catering and private events.
"He's been getting lots of requests for in-home dinners and that'll on the docket for this summer, along with taking some downtime to reassess things and see where he's ready to put his energy," she says. "He will be doing something in the restaurant industry in some form or fashion, it's just a matter of what and where and maybe it looks a little different."
In the meantime, VH fans have until May 30 to stop in for brunch and a toast.