Downtown Dallas finally nets the grocery store it has long craved, and it's a humdinger: Austin-based Royal Blue Grocery will open not one but two stores, both inside the Central Business District.
For downtown dwellers, that means a short jaunt to get house-made quinoa oatmeal topped with Texas pecans, dried cranberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It means sandwiches, soups, salads, and produce. It means toilet paper in a pinch. It also means coffee by acclaimed Stumptown Coffee from Portland, Oregon.
The two stores will be located at the Mercantile Place building at 1704 Main St., and at the Trammell Crow Center at 2001 Ross Ave., which is currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar makeover.
The chain hopes to do for downtown Dallas what it has done for downtown Austin: add density, vitality, street amenities, and convenience for workers and residents downtown.
Founder Craig Staley and his partner, George Scariano, founded Royal Blue in 2005 as a compact urban market, to fill the "bodega" need for in-town shoppers. It occupies a unique niche, combining elements of gourmet shop, convenience store, regular grocery, and cafe.
They opened their first store in Dallas in 2015 at Highland Park Village, taking over the former Tom Thumb space. That store is much larger, with 6,500 square feet, including seating areas, a larger cafe with 70 seats inside and out, and an expansive wine department, four times larger than the Austin stores.
They do many pre-prepared to-go items, making them faster than a sandwich shop. The menu includes salads, breakfast tacos, cold sandwiches like the muffuletta, hot sandwiches heated on a panini press, and pizza by the slice. Royal Blue is also stocking Dallas items such as breads by Empire Baking and pastries from Bisous Bisous.
The Trammell Crow store will be located at the northeast corner of Ross and Harwood.
In a release, Royal Blue Grocery proprietor Zac Porter says they're excited about Trammell Crow Center, which he calls "an iconic building undergoing a beautiful remodel."
"Our patio overlooking the DMA is going to be really special," he says. "As we expand into downtown Dallas, we think this location will be great for the building and our Ross Avenue, Arts District, and Klyde Warren Park neighbors."
In addition to the grocery store, Trammell Crow signed a lease with Dallas restaurateur Tim McEneny's NL Group, whose portfolio includes Dish Preston Hollow, Front Room Tavern at Hotel Lumen, and Jalisco Norte. He'll open a 3,100-square-foot restaurant with bar.
"This is a great opportunity to provide another concept similar in scope and size to Front Room Tavern," McEneny says. "It (Trammell Crow Center) is very viable asset in a highly trafficked, in-demand area."