A new beer bar and restaurant is coming to Dallas with a charming local angle. Called District 9 Draught Haus, it's named for the East Dallas council district in which it resides, and with a celebrity tie, too: It's from rock star Andy Thompson, guitarist for '90s alt-rock band the Buck Pets, and his wife Dana, and it will open in the same Lake Highlands center as Tex-Mex restaurant El Vecino and Le Caveau Vinoteque, the wine boutique.
Local rock fans of a certain age recognize the Buck Pets as one of the best rock bands to come out of Dallas. They released three killer albums and toured with acts such as Jane's Addiction and Neil Young.
They broke up in the '90s, although they've staged a few reunion shows around Dallas in the past five years.
In 2000, the Thompsons moved to Virginia, where they operated a successful country store-restaurant-market hybrid. Virginia was a good place to raise their kids, and they moved back to Dallas in 2016.
The couple considered recreating that hybrid concept here, before deciding on something that filled an unfilled niche and also spoke to their personal interests, namely German-style beer.
"I'm a beer person and an old home brewer, so I was glad to see the beer scene that has emerged in Dallas in the past decade," Thompson says. "In my home brewing and beer drinking, I have a preference for German lager, and we didn't see anything like that in town."
The couple wanted to keep it manageable — and local.
"In Virginia, we had 40 employees, and we didn't want to be that big — we wanted something we could do ourselves," he says. "We live in Little Forest Hills, and that's the general neighborhood we wanted to serve. We looked at Deep Ellum and other areas, but the more we looked around, the area east of White Rock Lake felt right."
While their original idea was to do a straight growler bar, the city of Dallas said they couldn't be just a bar, they had to sell food. That led them back to their roots.
"My family is from Wisconsin; growing up, my parents did Oktoberfest every year," Thompson says. "Bratwurst are in the blood. We were making them at our business in Virginia, and developed a recipe that we think is a pretty good bratwurst."
And thus a German-themed restaurant and beer house with bratwurst as a centerpiece of the menu was born.
"We're doing a German-themed restaurant, but not a German restaurant," Thompson says. "The beers will be German lager-focused but not entirely. I'd like to feature some styles that I've not been able to find everywhere. I'm thinking about maibocks, helles lagers, altbier. Bocks and double bocks are something you don't see a whole lot."
They'll have 28 taps, and will devote about 8-10 of those to German-style lager — "including some good old German brands that have stood the test of time, along with a representation of local beers," he says.
Construction is wrapping up, and they're shooting for a mid-November opening. They're working with noted architect-designer William Baker on a theme Thompson calls "industrial shabby."
District 9 consists of Lakewood, White Rock Lake, Lake Highlands, and far East Dallas, extending from Abrams Road east to Casa View and LBJ. All the cool neighborhoods.
"We can't think of anywhere else we want to be," Thompson says.