Steakhouse in AT&T District in downtown Dallas closes for a reworking
A flagship restaurant at the AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas has closed: Hawthorn, the upscale steakhouse from Apheleia Restaurant Group (El Bolero, Wits Steakhouse), packed up over the March 5-6 weekend and cleared the space out.
The restaurant had been closed since mid-February, blaming its closure on a plumbing problem.
But owner Richard Ellman says it's just a temporary closure, and that he's changing up the concept.
"We are temporarily closed, as we have something else in the works," Ellman says. What that something is, he does not say.
He says he's executing a similar reconcepting on Wits Steakhouse, the restaurant he opened in the Design District in 2022, in the former Oak space. It is also now temporarily closed.
The AT&T District has suffered a number of closures, most notably Rise + Thyme, the restaurant from celebrity chef Amanda Freitag, which closed in fall 2022. But most of the turnover has involved kiosk-style tenants, located inside the venue's food hall.
Hawthorn was a stand-alone restaurant (one of two in the District, along with Jaxon Texas Kitchen) — occupying a separate storefront facing Commerce Street.
It boasted an elegant clubby atmosphere, with caviar, Wagyu beef, and Prime steaks from Allen Bros., plus a separate full menu of sushi, sashimi, and raw-bar specials such as oysters and poke — earning it a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards nomination in 2021 for Best New Restaurant.
But unlike the food hall operators, it has a more traditional 10-year lease.
AT&T also called for Hawthorn to be open for lunch as well as dinner. But the built-in lunch business from AT&T's headquarters employees has evaporated in the wake of the work-from-home trend.
In its last few months, Hawthorn was open only for dinner, Thursday-Saturday.
In a 2022 story about ongoing issues at the AT&T Discovery District, Hawthorn owner Richard Ellman told the Dallas Morning News that business was being hurt by scaffolding, lack of marketing support from AT&T, and parking problems, including an inability to offer valet.
Ellman's restaurant group has, like every food & beverage entity, suffered hits through the pandemic, with closures that include El Bolero on Fitzhugh Avenue, and Pakpao Thai at Preston Hollow Village.
However, the original Pakpao Thai in the Design District is still open, as is El Bolero, which was just nominated for Best Neighborhood Restaurant in CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards.