Expo Park Bar

New biker-friendly bar in Exposition Park plays up neighborhood’s history

New biker-friendly bar in Expo Park plays up neighborhood’s history

Expo Park
Expo Park is getting a new bar. Photo by Justin Terveen

A Dallas address with loads of punk rock history will get a new tenant this spring. The new tenant is a casual bar-restaurant called The Vault Expo Park, and it'll take over the former Bar of Soap location in Exposition Park.

The Vault comes from Nanci Smith and Steven Wagner, who also own a bar in Forney called Fat Dawg's. This one will have a theme that plays up on the history of the building.

"The building is over 100 years old, and it has so much history," Smith says. "We're doing a theme of old Texas bank robbers. We have a couple artists who've done some murals for us of characters like Bonnie and Clyde, and a tenant in the building has several pictures of what it was before us; we're very excited about that."

Exposition Park has been dubbed "the last cool neighborhood in Dallas," and Bar of Soap was a treasured and unique spot, a combination bar-laundromat that hosted underground punk rock and rockabilly bands in the '90s and early '00s. Neighbors and bar patrons would bring their laundry while having a night at the club. The washing machines are all gone now.

"It was briefly the bicycle shop Switching Gears, but when we got it, it was empty," Smith says. "We are putting in two bars. In front, we're installing a 19-foot bar, and there'll be another in back that's more private, which people can lease out. We also put a kitchen in the back side."

The menu will be bar food, "but upscale," she says, inspired by the lessons they've learned at their bar in Forney.

"We have an amazing burger at Fat Dawg's, and we'll do nachos and tacos," she says. "We're adding a couple things at The Vault, because the kitchen's bigger, including a crawfish stew you can have with pasta or on your nachos."

Given the historical focus, they'll do a few Prohibition-style cocktails, and just as Bar of Soap once was, they'll be "bike-friendly," as in motorcycle. "Steve and I both ride," she says.

Getting the space is a full-circle thing.

"Before we purchased Fat Dawg's, we were looking for space in Deep Ellum, but there wasn't anything available at the time," Smith says. "Now there are lofts coming in, they're doing quite a bit to bring people. We're thankful to have the chance to be there, and hope we add to it."