An ultra-cool space on the eastern edge of downtown Dallas gets a second life thanks to Harwood Tavern, a new restaurant and bar opening at 333 S. Harwood St., in what was ever-so-briefly the upscale Mexican restaurant Agave Azul.
Harwood Tavern comes from the owners of Green Door Public House, the successful and popular bar and grill by the Dallas Farmers Market, and Uncle Uber's Sammich Shop in Deep Ellum. They know about downtown drinking and eating establishments.
They inherited what was a fully outfitted space, says Dunagin Gaines, who will serve as director of operations for both Harwood Tavern and Green Door. "The Agave Azul team did a lot of work on the location, and left a lot behind that we can use," he says.
Agave Azul was the Carrollton Mexican restaurant known for its selection of more than 200 tequilas and its traditional Mexican cuisine. Owner Zotico Reyes opened the downtown spin-off on the ground floor of the Lone Star Gas Lofts building, a project of Hamilton Properties, in 2015, following a comprehensive remodel, with loads of colorful art and a stellar patio.
But after only three months, the downtown location closed due to lack of business. At the time, Reyes called it a temporary closure, while they awaited completion of the various projects in the works in and around the Dallas Farmers Market nearby. Those just didn't happen soon enough.
But things have finally fallen into place. The area is now ramping up, with parks and projects like the renovation of the Statler Hotel, which will re-open in the fall.
"With the Statler getting ready to open, and The Dallas Morning News offices moving in next door, we saw this as a no-brainer," says Gaines. "You're going to have all these employees nearby looking for a place to go."
Aiming to open in October, they'll try to recreate the neighborhood-friendly spirit they've built at Green Door, but with a menu that's slightly elevated in ambition and price.
"The food is top secret for now, but it'll definitely be comfort food, with a little higher price point," Gaines says. "One thing about this location is that it has a great prep kitchen with more space than we know what to do with."
The changes they've made to the dining room were surprisingly minimal. "It'll be a little darker atmosphere than what we've done at the Green Door," he says. "We had to eliminate the Spanish element that Agave Azul left, but you'd be surprised how quickly a Santa Fe theme can be turned into a pub."