Bar in Dallas' Medical District whose owner died will close before Xmas
What is surely one of the more resilient bars in Dallas has closed: Redfield's Tavern, a bar in the Medical District that endured the pandemic and the death of its co-founder, is closing after three years.
According to owner Katy Tillotson, who calls Redfield's "the little bar that could," it'll close on December 23.
The bar opened in 2019, a project between Katy and her husband, veteran bar owner Joe Tillotson, who'd co-founded a string of well-known venues including Barley House, City Tavern, Katy Trail Ice House, Banditos, and Bryan Street Tavern.
Katy knew the Medical District because she'd worked at Children's Medical Center. She saw a need for some kind of bar or restaurant in the area, and it became a passion project for the couple.
But Joe subsequently got cancer which he battled for six years before passing away in 2021.
"For the past six years, Redfield’s has been such a huge part of my life and for the last several of Joe’s years it was a huge part of ours," Katy said in a Facebook post. "The years before we opened we spent nearly all of our time together and I could walk through the inside and out and tell a story about almost every piece of art, of furniture, how it’s the wood from our old fence that lines several walls, how we preserved brick to line the inside wall, the salvage yards we dug through to find treasures. It was so much fun, and watching Joe immersed completely in his artistic element made me incredibly proud. He was remarkably talented."
The couple actually began working on the bar in 2016.
"What was intended to take a year to open ended up being closer to three due to cancer and every permit issue possible," she says. "Then we opened four months before COVID. We survived cancer life, COVID, and Joe’s death."
The bar closed briefly in October 2020 over an uproar that ensued after a bartender secretly recorded a conversation in which Tillotson requested she hire a more diverse set of employees, IE not just gay staffers. They re-opened with new management a few months later.
Katy calls the closure "a heartbreaking loss — and it’s another piece of Joe that will be gone."
"I feel an extreme sense of guilt and of having let down my husband and it is excruciating," she says. "Truthfully though, Redfield’s needed Joe, and without him it just didn’t really work."
The plan is to sell the building or lease it to another bar "that will continue to serve this special area that has such a huge place in my heart," she says.