Photo courtesy of DSO

Dallas Symphony music director Fabio Luisi has proven he's a maestro of many talents on the podium. But behind the scenes, he's got another finely tuned forte that may surprise even the most ardent of concert patrons — he's a perfumer.

Luisi has created a new, limited-edition, exclusive perfume for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, called ON (Ogni Nota), available as of November 10.

According to a release, the fragrance is now being sold in the Dallas Symphony’s store in the lobby of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, priced at $120 for 30ml and $40 for 10ml.

A selection of Luisi's other fragrances in his FL Parfums collection are also available at the DSO store for $140 for a 20ml bottle.

“This perfume is unisex, and it is very clean with citrusy notes,” Luisi says in the release. “I wanted to evoke a feeling of joy and lightness, like a crisp, Sunday morning.”

Luisi has been creating perfumes since 2012 and has become a celebrated perfumer, lauded in such media outlets as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and CBS Sunday Morning, DSO says. His FLPARFUMS line is sold online and at very select boutiques around the world.

The DSO fragrance, ON, started as a conversation between Luisi and Kim Noltemy, the Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony. According to the release, they discussed ideas for a scent profile and tested a number of combinations to come up with the perfect perfume for the DSO.

“Perfumes are a passion of Fabio’s, and we have talked about his process of creating new scents and finding new combinations for perfumes,” Noltemy says. “I’m delighted that he agreed to create something customized for us.”

For more information, visit the DSO website.

Photo by WJNPhoto

New MiniLuxe mobile nail service brings the popular Dallas salon right to your home

Beauty on the go

An acclaimed Dallas-area nail studio is now delivering manis and pedis straight to customers' doors: MiniLuxe has launched a digital platform called MiniLuxe Anywhere for nail services to-go in DFW.

"We are thrilled to be expanding the reach of Miniluxe Anywhere in the Dallas metropolitan area," says Ting Ting Guo, GM Head of MiniLuxe Anywhere. "We hope our new digital platform will better serve the local audience by making nailcare more accessible and convenient, anywhere they are.”

Services offered include:

  • No-Polish, Basic, Signature, and Gel Manicures ($25-$50)
  • No-Polish, Basic, Signature, and Gel Pedicures ($36-$60)
  • Add-ons like callus treatments, French finish, deluxe massage, performance polish, and gel polish removal ($10-$15).

Customers book directly through the MiniLuxe Anywhere portal.

Up to three guests can be booked per appointment — for the same nail designer or multiple designers for an additional fee. (Note that gratuity is not included in the quoted price, and 25 percent will be added automatically after the service, per the website.)

Group bookings for parties and showers can be made by emailing anywhere@miniluxe.com or submitting an event request form.

Currently, the MiniLuxe Anywhere service is available in within 30 miles of the Dallas city limits, and specifically in Plano, Carrollton, and Grapevine, the company says. Appointments can be booked 8 am-8 pm daily.

MiniLuxe currently has physical salon locations and studios in Highland Park, NorthPark Center, The Shops at Legacy, Uptown, and West Village (exact studio locations can be found here).

The company says MiniLuxe Anywhere is meant to be an extension of the hygienic, high-quality services they've become known for (using non-toxic nail polishes, for example) — especially in these post-pandemic days, when there's increased awareness of health and safety concerns.

"With consumer safety and nail tech empowerment at the forefront of each salon, MiniLuxe is setting the standard of what every salon experience should be (even from the comfort of your own home!) in an effort to overhaul the nail industry as a whole," the company says in a release. "MiniLuxe combines pioneering clean salon standards, including non-toxic services and products, surgical grade sanitized instruments, no-circulating whirlpool pedicure baths, as well as market-driven standards including prioritization of nail health, safety and hygiene, and an emphasis on fostering nail artist’s creativity and wellness."

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Texas' dreamiest destination spa unwraps exclusive $1,000 Swiss facial for 25th anniversary

Palatial pampering

When the Lake Austin Spa Resort went shopping for a 25th-anniversary gift for guests, it aimed higher than traditional silver and picked treatments that incorporated gold, diamonds, and caviar. As a result, the dreamy destination spa now offers some of the most opulent, exclusive, and — at upwards of $1,000 — most expensive facials in the world.

In anticipation of its milestone anniversary in 2022, the Lake Austin Spa Resort’s LakeHouse Spa partnered with Swiss luxury skincare brand Valmont to introduce the new facials, which are as cutting-edge as they are indulgent.

Creme de la creme among them is The Regal by Valmont, which costs a jaw-dropping $1,050. The Regal was designed in Switzerland exclusively for LakeHouse Spa, and Austin is the only place in the world to get it.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people,” says Becky Bence, Lake Austin Spa Resort lead esthetician. “And it’s definitely worth it.”

The 135-minute facial begins with the high-tech deep cleanse of the HydroFacial and proceeds with seven masks, including four collagen masks, a papaya enzyme, and a medical-grade LED light mask. Every single product from Valmont’s ultra luxe “masterpiece collection” called l’Elixir des Glaciers is used; some products are made with an uber anti-aging essence of gold sturgeon fish. All are applied using a Valmont signature “butterfly” motion that helps to lift and sculpt the face.

What puts the Regal over the top, though, are 35 minutes of choreographed massage, including a 500-year-old technique called “kobido,'' developed for the empress of Japan. Touted as a “surgical facelift as a massage," Bence says, kobido was once reserved only for nobility and the empress, then later handed down from masters to disciples.

So rarified is the Regal facial, that just six of the 21 LakeHouse Spa estheticians are trained to perform it. They learned at a weeklong “bootcamp” conducted by two Valmont experts who flew in to Austin from Switzerland.

“It was kind of like the Navy Seal program of facials,” Bence says. “It was kind of like being handed down something from a true master.”

The $1K price tag hasn’t kept people away. Since the Regal was introduced several months ago, guests have come from all over the world — and from all corners of Texas — to experience what the spa calls “the ultimate in anti-aging perfection and cellular renewal.” (After all $1,000 is still far less than an actual facelift or even regular nick-tuck-plump-ups by a cosmetic surgeon.)

Why reach all the way to Switzerland for the palatial new treatments? After emerging from COVID shutdowns, Bence says, LakeHouse Spa personnel “auditioned” just about every single skincare line out there. The estheticians voted, and Valmont won.

“We wanted to add something really special, something luxurious but yet something out-of-this-world amazing that truly benefited the skin,” Bence says. “Something almost to replace Botox and fillers …that gave you basically a natural face-lift without being invasive but still being relaxing.”

In addition to the Regal, other new Valmont facials introduced in this 25th anniversary year include:

  • The 150-minute Gold & Diamond Trifecta Facial that involves three massages, four masks, infra-red LED, and a hydrogel mask with micronized gold and diamonds, which costs $990.
  • The Golden Aura Rose & Caviar Facial, a 100-minute treatment that incorporates marine products containing caviar extract and Diamond Collagen, costing $790.
  • Energy of the Glaciers, a 90-minute facial that features rare ingredients from Switzerland and deep, structural massage of the face, stimulating muscles to tone and lift; $750.
  • Luminosity of Ice Facial, a 90-minute treatment described as a “toxin-flushing, facial reflexology-inspired facial” that uses a cocktail of seven plants organically cultivated at high altitudes; $650.

The spa also has a complete menu of non-Valmont facials and dozens of other signature treatments.

Luxe but laid back
Lake Austin Spa Resort’s Dallas-based co-owner, Mike McAdams, says the new facials are indicative of how high the spa wanted to aim for its 25th anniversary.

“Our guest demands a luxurious, more refined experience, and Valmont helps us deliver on that objective,” he says.

And yet, Lake Austin Spa Resort remains a place where robed guests can emerge from a $1,000 facial and step over geckos skittering along the sidewalk while a speedboat whizzes by pumping Beyonce through the speakers. It’s upscale but unpretentious, luxurious but laid-back — almost like “spa camp.”

“We never wanted to create the ‘zen’ spa with stark lines and absence of color – we aimed to create just the opposite,” McAdams says. “Your surroundings absolutely have an impact on how your wellness journey can unfold and influence your daily life. The colors and textures that surround you mimic the vibe of the Texas Hill Country and pay homage to nature.”

The top-rated spa and resort is a far cry now from the place McAdams purchased on January 1, 1997. Located along the shores of scenic Lake Austin in the Texas Hill Country, the property had lived previous lives as a fishing camp, nudist enclave, rodeo ranch, and diet camp.

McAdams — at the time a commercial real estate developer for Dallas-based Trammell Crow — experienced a personal work-life-balance crisis that's wholly relatable in today's post-pandemic, "great-resignation" world two-and-a-half decades later.

“I was living on a plane, traveling a lot. It was high stress, and high energy and I loved it,” he says. “In 1984, I found a place that changed my life — the Ashram in Calabasas, California. It was a true bootcamp, with physical activities and dietary restrictions that were very intense… This experience forced me to come down from my hectic lifestyle of traveling, eating, drinking, and not exercising."

After adopting healthier habits in his own life, he and an LSU fraternity brother, Billy Rucks, seized an opportunity to buy and transform the Lake Austin Spa Resort; they still co-own it today. “It was a diamond in the rough," McAdams says.

More 25th anniversary offerings
One of the biggest challenges running the spa the last 25 years (besides navigating a global pandemic), McAdams says, has been continually evolving in an industry dominated by fleeting fads and headline-grabbing gimmicks.

“The changes in the last 25 years in the spa industry have been monumental,” McAdams says. “The global wellness industry is now a $4.5 trillion economy, with ‘spa’ being one small part of the bubble. We are all seekers looking for ways to look and feel our best, and I think the growth is due to a demand in wanting to take our health into our own hands.”

One of the resort’s newest touts (proudly stated on their home page) is that they’re Texas’ only destination spa on a lake. Recently they’ve introduced a full range of water activities, including a water taxi that transports guests to the spa and back.

“When we bought Lake Austin Spa Resort in 1997, our guests would put a toe in the water — but we’ve also evolved and now understand the power of being near a moving body of water and how it affects your health, happiness, and even alleviates depression,” McAdams says.

Along with the new fancy facials and lake programming, the resort has also added new classes and activities and upgraded amenities for its 25th anniversary. Befitting its location in the “live music capital of the world,” Austin-area musicians now entertain guests nightly around s’mores pits. There’s new artwork around the campus, too.

“My favorite part of celebrating our 25th anniversary this year has been to watch a very special piece of commissioned art be installed in the first few months of the year,” McAdams says. “A local Austin artist created a 64-foot long, 400-square foot abstract mural of stone, glass, and tile designed to honor our magnificent natural location on Lake Austin.

"Within the creation, I wanted to honor all of the amazing past and present people who helped get to where we are today. Their names are included in this mural, discreetly placed within this homage to nature. Because of these special people, Lake Austin Spa Resort has enjoyed many wonderful accolades through the years.”


To mark its 25th anniversary, Lake Austin Spa Resort is offering 25 percent off stays of at least two nights or more, through January 31, 2023. Reservations must be booked by October 31. Some packages include generous spa credits, but sadly, the $1,050 Regal facial is not 25 percent off. Find more information at www.lakeaustin.com.

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

A red light mask is part of the $1,050 Regal by Valmont facial.

Photo courtesy of Glosslab

New celeb-endorsed nail studio glosses into Preston Royal Dallas for Texas debut

Salon news

A modern new nail studio with a celebrity following is making its Texas debut in Dallas’ Preston Royal neighborhood: Glosslab, which touts itself as a hygiene-first, membership-based nail studio, is debuting at 6025 Royal Ln. on Friday, August 19.

“We are so thrilled to be coming to Dallas and sharing Glosslab with the vibrant community there,” says founder Rachel Apfel Glass. “It was a natural next place to expand and we can't wait to meet everyone.”

Glass, a mom of two, founded Glosslab after she was frustrated by a lack of cleanliness and efficiency in most salons, she says. It was after the birth of her second daughter that she decided to do something about it. She founded Glosslab on three pillars: hygiene, efficiency, and membership. She also made it a point to focus on the client experience, she says.

The result, the company says, is a "future-forward studio offering technology-enhanced services and performance-based products, including best-in-class long-lasting polish, gel, and non-toxic polishes."

In this new COVID-aware world, Glosslab guests also can expect the strictest possible safety protocols, including online booking, cashless payment, contactless check-in and checkout, and hospital grade sterilization, they say. Pedicures are waterless.

Glosslab stays focused on nails; it's not a spa with a bunch of frilly extras. Services include polish changes ($15-$20), traditional manicures and pedicures ($25-$52), and gel manicures and pedicures ($55-$72).

Memberships are $135 for unlimited manis/pedis per month, or $125 per month if you pay quarterly.

Since Glosslab first launched in 2018 in the Flatiron district of New York, the company has expanded to 14 locations in seven states.

The brand has also garnered celebrity attention. A-list fans now include Jennifer Garner, Olivia Ponton, Lil Yachty, Neil Patrick Harris, The Chainsmokers, The Bachelor's Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell, and P.K. Subban, they say.

The Preston Royal location will be the first of several Glosslabs to open in Dallas and throughout Texas. “We are very excited that Dallas' Preston Royal location will be our first in Texas but have a host of other locations opening,” Glass says.

Locations "coming soon" include 4416 Lovers Ln., Dallas, and 1908 Abrams Pkwy., in Lakewood. There are also five Houston locations in the works.

As for what to expect inside, the Dallas location is similarly designed to other studios, the company says, “to give it that classic ‘Glosslab’ feel and aesthetic” everything from the art to the nail polish wall.

Hours at Preston Royal are 8 am-8 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-7 pm Saturday, and 10 am-7 pm Sunday. Appointments can be booked through the website (look for the BOGO mani/pedi offer for new clients on the site).

Rendering courtesy of Blue Nile

Giant online diamond retailer Blue Nile sets showroom for top Dallas mall

Diamond News

An online jeweler known for its diamonds and fine jewelry is opening a showroom in Dallas: Blue Nile, a popular online source for wedding and engagement rings, is opening a location at NorthPark Center.

According to a spokesperson, the goal is to have the NorthPark shop open in time for holiday gift shopping, but definitely by the end of the year.

Blue Nile proclaims itself the world's leading diamond jeweler online for engagement and wedding rings, with lower markups for high-quality, conflict-free, GIA graded diamonds and fine jewelry.

Based in Seattle, the company was founded in 1999 by Mark Vadon who was dissatisfied shopping for an engagement ring through traditional retail, and who felt that buying an engagement ring online would be superior.

They keep their margins low because they list diamonds directly from manufacturers and wholesalers, instead of investing in an inventory and then trying to recoup their money.

They have a large selection of settings, including special editions by designers such as Zac Posen. Customers can search through an inventory of more than 50,000 diamonds, and there's also a Build-Your-Own function where you can customize rings, earrings, and pendants. A savvy customer service team offers no-pressure advice and guidance.

In addition to diamond, gold, pearl, sterling silver, platinum, and gemstone jewelry in classic and modern designs, they also have an exclusive "Fancy Colored Diamonds" collection of rare fancy colored diamonds, including extremely rare diamonds in red and pink hues.

They currently have 21 physical showrooms located throughout the United States, including one that just opened in Houston in April; there's also a location in Austin. Showrooms offer customer service, private consultation rooms, and exclusive lounges, with guidance on pieces such as rings and necklaces from the showroom, or jewels and jewelry available online. A lounge space means that friends and family can offer input.

Coincidentally, the company was just acquired by Signet Jewelers, parent company of Zales and the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry, in order to expand its bridal offerings and attract a customer demographic that is younger, more affluent, and ethnically diverse.

It puts Blue Nile in the top tier of Signet's Accessible Luxury banners alongside Jared, James Allen, and Diamonds Direct.

Photo courtesy of House of Krigler

Luxe perfume brand favored by royalty & celebs to open at Ritz-Carlton Dallas

Fragrance News

A fragrant new boutique is coming to Uptown Dallas: The House of Krigler, a global perfumerie with a history dating back more than a century, will open a shop at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas hotel.

A spokesperson confirms that the shop will open in September.

This marks the second Texas outpost for the Berlin-based brand, a staple among Hollywood elite such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jackie Kennedy, as well as members of the royal family; the company made its Texas debut in 2021 when it opened a shop in Houston.

Krigler is best known for its custom-made fragrances, scented candles, soaps, and personalized decanters. Shoppers can choose from their existing legacy fragrances or work with company artisans to craft bespoke fragrances and custom-made scented candles.

Krigler was founded in 1904 by Albert Krigler, a perfume maker who established a company tradition of opening boutiques in top-tier legacy hotels such as Four Seasons, Kempinski, Ritz-Carlton, and Peninsula, on the theory that Krigler's clientele is international in nature.

In 2005, his great-grandson Ben took over the family business. A trained architect as well as a parfumeur, Ben oversees design of the stores, and was responsible for moving the company into the digital world by making fragrances and samples available via catalog, mail order, and online.

Krigler's signature fragrances include:

  • Extraordinaire Camelia 209, modern and cleanly composed and a favorite among younger generations of two Royal Courts in Europe
  • Jazzy Riviera 210, reminiscent of the Jazz Era, fresh and exuberant
  • Splendid Gold 211, whose interpretation of that precious metal results in a creamy, sweet, and fruity fragrance
  • Ultra Chateau Krigler 212, a fresh update of their 100-year-old Chateau Krigler 12
  • Oud Azur 75212, with white tea and a hint of musk
  • Oud Sumptuous 75213, fresh notes with labdanum and lavender, but also a touch of Marrakesh

Ultimate K'Oud 75214 is of local interest since it emerged after a business trip Ben made to Texas, highlighting the climatic differences he encountered in the Lone Star State between hot and cool, rough and smoky.

Their Eau de Parfum can take years to make it to market, and all fragrances are made in a limited quantity each year, with no batch exceeding one thousand.

Krigler will also create custom-made flasks and decanters as well as custom-made trunks to house your personalized fragrances. And their custom-made scented candles, using a smooth soy-based eco-wax, are said to be works of art and very popular for weddings.

There are eight locations in the U.S. including Los Angeles at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, San Francisco at the Ritz Carlton, Chicago at the Peninsula, New York at the Plaza Hotel, Bal Harbour at the Ritz Carolton, Palm Beach at the Four Seasons, Miami Beach at the Ritz Carlton South Beach, and Houston at the Four Seasons, plus five locations in Europe including Germany, Austria, and France.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas spirit is in full swing, with all but one of this week’s events being holiday-themed. Check off pics with Santa for both the family and fur babies; take a Christmas cocktail-making class; sample holiday spirits from around the world; and stroll acres of candlelit walkways while indulging in holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks – just to name a few. ‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Dallas location, reserve here, and for Plano, reserve here.

Fontodi Wine Dinner at La Stella Cucina Verace
The Dallas Arts District Italian restaurant will host a five-course dinner paired with wines from Fontodi, a producer located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Courses will include beef carpaccio, butternut squash cappellacci with brown butter and sage, porchetta di Pienza with marble potatoes, Wagyu New York strip tagliata with porcini mushroom and butternut squash, and apple crostata. Dinner begins at 7 pm and is $175 plus tax and gratuity.

Thursday, December 8

Santa Paws at Texican Court Hotel
The Irving hotel invites furry friends and their humans to pop by for photos with Santa and complimentary hot apple cider and s’mores by the fire. Santa will be available for pet photos from 5-7 pm. Also enter to win a “Pups Night Away” overnight stay. Don’t miss the hotel’s pocket tequila bar, Salt, for new holiday cocktails in jolly keepsake glassware.

Reindeer Games Bar Crawl
Here’s a holiday bar crawl that spans beyond just drink specials. Participants get their money’s worth with a night of mini golf, axe throwing, unlimited video games, a chartered “sleigh bus,” and a pizza buffet. Start at Another Round and make stops at Flashback Retro Pub, LoneStar Axe Dallas, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern. Participants will also get a beer or seltzer at each stop. Tickets are $150 per duo, and the crawl will run from 6:15-10:30 pm.

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

Cocktails by Candlelight at Old City Park
Candlelight will feature more than 13 acres of holiday cheer with decorated buildings, carolers, craft vendors, and candlelit walkways in Old City Park. Its 50th edition is set to begin on December 10, but adults only can get a sneak peek the night before during Cocktails by Candlelight, which comes with heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Shaken, Not Stirred, Holiday Cocktail Class at Elm & Good
The modern American restaurant inside the Kimpton Pittman Hotel will host a holiday cocktail class great for groups looking to make spirits bright. Elm & Good’s lead mixologist Indy Acevedo-Fowler will guide guests through creating three cocktails: a cranberry margarita, peppermint espresso martini, and sangria rosa. Guests will also receive a branded take-away gift. The class is $35 and will begin at 2 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Brunch with Santa at the AC Hotel Dallas by the Galleria
Meet the big guy himself while indulging in brunch dishes during this family-friendly Sunday Funday. Tickets are $25 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $15 for kids 3-12. Children will get to meet Santa and take family photos. Brunch will run from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

Monday, December 12

12 Days of Thompson
The Thompson Hotel Dallas will spread Christmas cheer with 12 days of daily holiday activations. The festivities start Monday with Home Alone, S’mores & Sips, a movie night with cocktails themed after the Christmas classic, a s’mores bar, and movie screening amid downtown views. The price is a $15 charitable donation. Doors opens at 5 pm with the movie to start at 6 pm. Other 12 Days of Thompson events range from a pie-baking class and cookie decorating to brunch with Santa and Holiday High Tea. See the complete calendar of events here.

Dedicated volunteers extract Spaghetti Warehouse trolley from Dallas' West End

Trolley News

Thanks to a dedicated team of conservation-minded folks, the vintage trolley from the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End has been moved to a temporary new home: in a warehouse at Orr-Reed Architectural Co., the salvage store just south of downtown Dallas, which will provide a safe space for the vehicle while it undergoes a restoration.

A permanent home is still TBD, but Orr-Reed will be housing the trolley for at least the next 12 months.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar got a bid from an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was donated to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association in Old East Dallas who wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights.

Orr-Reed is providing the space and backup manpower for free.

"The first time it went on the auction block, I wanted to buy it because I'm obsessed with keeping the city’s history," says Orr-Reed owner Hannah Hargrove. "Dallas is known for tearing things down and replacing it with bigger and better things, but 'bigger and better' only lasts 50 years. Since we have the space, we wanted to be helpful in providing the trolley's next chapter of life."

spaghetti warehouse trolley A team unloads the Spaghetti Warehouse trolley into a warehouse at Orr-Reed.Johann Huebschmann

The move
JD Middleton, who builds out restaurants and bars for his "day job," oversaw a team of volunteers who broke the trolley down into pieces and transported it to the new location.

"My buddy JJ Velez and I saw it in the news, we both had a personal connection," Middleton says. "My grandfather drove the trolley, it's possible he drove that one, while JJ had seen it when he was a little kid, after the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas."

With another friend, Randy Lasiter, assisting, they volunteered to do it on a 100 percent volunteer basis. For the past six months, they've been going there in the early morning, before heading to their regular job sites.

"We do a lot of crazy things for customer requests, and this was right up our alley," Middleton says.

This entailed cutting the exterior into parts: removing the front and back "nose pieces," breaking down the body of the trolley into panels, then splitting up the chassis foundation — like a vertebrae that they cut up, to be reassembled by a welder.

Middleton says that Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop donated saw blades and trailers and other equipment, as did Frida's Social Club on McKinney Avenue, who provided a big trailer and truck to haul it over to Orr-Reed.

Middleton assembled a group of friends who spent four hours on December 3, loading the trolley piece-by-piece onto trailers, then unloading it at Orr-Reed. He's also volunteered to help restore it.

"There's some rusting on the inside, it's like an old Ford Model-T that's been sitting in a garage," he says. "We'll get it sand-blasted and primed and painted, then put it back together again."

Their work is saving the Junius Heights Historic District hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's like an art project for us, and we're getting the opportunity to help take care of history," Middleton says. "JJ ate there when he was a little kid, and he'd like to take his kid to see it when it's finished. That’s why we're doing it."

Spaghetti Warehouse trolley Spaghetti Warehouse trolley, in pieces.Johann Huebschmann

The new home
The Junius Heights group does not yet have a permanent home for the trolley, nor a plan for how it will be managed or maintained. Details details.

For now, it resides in Orr-Reed's "dry house" — a warehouse they've used for overflow and for items that need to be kept out of the elements such as big furniture items, casement windows, and things that cannot get wet.

Hargrove and her staff built shelving and redesigned the warehouse to make it work.

"It'll definitely affect our day-to-day routine — there's a giant cumbersome trolley that's taking up space — but it’s worth it," Hargrove says. "If we hadn't done it, they would have had to spend a lot of money on storing it rather than restoring it. I'm a keeper of history, it’s my duty, although I've never done anything on this scale."

"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because someone has to," she says. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."