A Denton musician with a well-traveled palate is opening a cool restaurant-bar in a century-old building off the city's square. Called 940's Kitchen & Cocktails, it's named for Denton's area code and comes from Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith and his wife, plus a circle of friends.
Running the kitchen will be chef David Rodriguez, formerly of Oddfellows and Urban Acres, and a former Denton resident, and pastry chef Ryan Jungman, who will be baking breads in-house. The opening date is slated for mid-September, which they'll precede with a series of celebratory events.
Smith first got involved in the hospitality industry as one of the owners of Paschall Bar, which opened in 2011.
"I love food, and I've been fortunate enough to travel around the world," Smith says. "I love living in Denton, I met my wife here, and I have the recording studio, and I think it has so much room to grow and evolve."
Part of his desire is to make a contribution to the town.
"We deserve more food options," he says. "We have a lot of cool casual restaurants, and some good fine-dining, but we could use something in the middle. That's what we want to do: medium-priced where the quality is high."
They aren't yet unleashing the menu, but the cuisine will be New American, with an eye toward as much locally or regionally sourced as possible. "Chef David's food has a cool little Texas spin," Smith says. He describes the atmosphere as "elegant and classy, but not pretentious or stuffy," a place where you can go on a date or in a suit, but also feel at home in a T-shirt and jeans.
The location, which was previously a venue called Banter, has personal resonance for Smith. They completely renovated it, moving the kitchen from the middle of the room to the back, adding new bathrooms, replacing the bar, and rebuilding the façade.
"It was called Brick Hause, and it was one of earliest places Midlake ever played, even before we were called Midlake," he says. "I used to hang out there all the time.
"This building is special to me. And I love the space. It's over 100 years old. One wall is old stone and the other is brick. It has character and richness, and those are things you can't make up or buy."