Uptown Closure

Iconic Uptown Dallas restaurant Cafe Express closes after 20 years

Iconic Uptown Dallas restaurant Cafe Express closes after 20 years

Cafe Express
There's only one place in Dallas to get this right now. Photo courtesy of Cafe Express

In news more shocking than the recent closure at Mockingbird Station, the iconic location of Cafe Express in Uptown Dallas has closed.

A representative from the Houston-based concept confirmed that the restaurant was closed. Employees who were at the restaurant said they were cleaning. And the location has been removed from the website, throwing an error that says, "Oops! That page can't be found."

Bobby Jaramillo, COO for Cafe Express, said that the closure was part of the final details of the company's restructuring plan.

In addition to the Uptown location, the Baybrook and Sugar Land locations in the Houston area were also closed.

"Over the last several months, we made a tough but thoughtful decision to reduce the number of restaurants in the group in order to make the brand more profitable, all with the objective of growing it again," Jaramillo said. "We know that we have to navigate some choppy waters in order to create a future of smooth sailing."

"That being the case, we are enthusiastic about our 7 restaurants in Houston and Dallas," he said. "They are in excellent locations and generate strong sales. We are going to focus all of our resources on making these restaurants not just great, but outstanding. We are glad to have the restructure behind us and look forward to the future."

The closure leaves the chain with only one remaining location in Dallas, on Lovers Lane in the Park Cities. The location at Mockingbird Station closed in late September after nearly 20 years.

The McKinney Avenue restaurant had been a forever staple on the Uptown Dallas scene, with its expansive dining room, easygoing atmosphere, and sunny patio facing the street. And an ample parking lot behind the restaurant made it a convenient and popular meeting point.

When it opened in the mid-'90s, it was deemed "the biggest and most handsome [location] yet,' drawing "busy droves eager to line up for counter-ordered quick meals that are fresh, health-conscious and budget-friendly."

But the restaurant saw upheaval after being forced to close in 2015 to make way for  M Line Tower, the 20-story residential tower. It only recently re-opened in January, following a two-year closure, and was considered by management to be a flagship location.

The chain was also acquired by new owner in M. Terry Enterprises, who relocated the headquarters from Houston to Dallas, from which it operates about a dozen locations in Dallas, Houston, and Austin.

The company was founded by Houston chef Robert del Grande and restaurateur (and CultureMap co-founder) Lonnie Schiller, and was an early fast-casual concept at a time when fast-casual was still new.

Over the years, it changed hands twice: Wendy's bought the concept, and it was then acquired by Houston real estate company Redstone.

Jaramillo and CEO George Hailey joined the company in 2017; the two previously worked for Chili's and Brinker International.