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.


High-profile new downtown Dallas steakhouse leaks opening date and menu

Downtown News

There's an opening date for one of the most high-profile restaurants in Dallas: Crown Block, the new restaurant from a high-powered hospitality team that's going into the Reunion Tower downtown, will open on Monday, April 17.

The steak and seafood concept is from hospitality industry veterans and husband-wife business partners, Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla of Blau + Associates and Hunt Realty Investments, Inc. and promises lots of features to wow diners above and beyond the building's unique 360-degree skyline views.

They're also revealing details on the menu including a notable steak program featuring Prime Beef, Texas Wagyu, and Japanese A5 Wagyu; sushi and a chilled seafood bar; and a dessert bar.

Some of the dishes that Canteenwalla says he's most excited about include:

  • Regiis Ova Caviar
  • Wagyu croquettes with Keen’s hot mustard sauce
  • Heartbrand Akaushi striploin, from Flatonia, Texas
  • Rosewood Ranch Bone-In Strip Steak from Ennis
  • Triple cooked steak fries with truffle mayonnaise, which take several days to prepare

Desserts are described as "unparalleled and photo-worthy," including the Turtle Peanut Butter Candy Bar and Crème Brulee Donut Holes with Maple Cotton Candy.

A custom bar will be stocked with a "substantial" wine list and signature cocktails such as the Midnight Rambler with Balcones Pot Still Bourbon; and the Orange Vesper with Lockwood Texas Style Gin and fresh blood orange juice.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring this collaboration to Dallas,” Blau says. “Alongside our Operating Partner, Hunt Realty, we are proud to open our doors and welcome guests to an unmatched culinary experience that transcends a typical steakhouse. It’s an honor to be part of the Reunion Tower story and have the privilege of serving a menu that brings forth the best of Texas hospitality with breathtaking views.”

In addition to the restaurant, Crown Block will offer an event space called The Crown Room, located one floor below the restaurant, which can accommodate 250+ guests for a cocktail reception, a formal seated experience for 200+ guests, and a semi-private space for 100 to 150 guests with choice of south-facing views or views of downtown.

“Reunion Tower is an icon of the Dallas skyline and has served as the premiere destination for the city’s milestones and celebrations," says Tyler Kleinert of Hunt Realty. "Crown Block embodies the spirit of what my grandfather, Ray Hunt envisioned for his development of Reunion Tower nearly six decades ago. Crown Block builds on his vision for downtown and I am excited for the growth taking shape. The selection of Blau + Associates will deliver an experience worthy of our great city.”

Blau is founder and CEO of restaurant development company Blau + Associates and credited with transforming Las Vegas into a world-class culinary destination. A judge on CNBC’s Restaurant Startup, she and Canteenwalla, who is former executive chef for MGM Grand in Las Vegas with more than 30 years of culinary & industry experience around the world, operate several restaurants in Las Vegas and Vancouver. The couple co-authored Honey Salt: A Culinary Scrapbook, named Best Cookbook of 2018 by Food & Beverage Magazine.

The Statler

Statler Dallas downtown hotel swaps out Tex-Mex for new steakhouse

Steakhouse News

The Statler Dallas hotel in downtown Dallas is swapping out Tex-Mex and swapping in steak: Goodbye to Primo’s MX Kitchen & Lounge, which closed on Sunday February 19.

But its restaurant management company Refined Hospitality Concepts already has a replacement in the works: a steakhouse called LVI.

According to a release it'll open in May.

LVI is 56 in Roman numerals and references the history of the hotel, which first opened in 1956. The restaurant will embrace the Statler's iconic mid-century style.

The dining room will reflect a classic private club feel, with a dramatic wine display as guests enter the restaurant. Private dining spaces will be available for meetings and intimate gatherings.

Chef Leo Morales envisions LVI as a contemporary interpretation of the classic steakhouse, with prime beef complemented by nonbeef dishes such as bone-in Duroc pork chops, seafood, salads, and "an array of hand-crafted side dishes." Hand-crafted.

Statler general management manager Adam Gollub says in a statement that LVI will add "fine dining elegance."

"We know that our hotel guests, the residents of our 219 apartments and our downtown Dallas neighbors will make LVI their go-to destination for special events," Gollub says.

As the release notes, the Statler was hailed as a wonder of design and had a number of firsts, including the first hotel elevator music and the first in-room TVs.

The Statler's other in-house restaurant Scout is reopening, and will integrate favorites from both the Primo’s menu and the former Scout menu.

Harwood District

Market and wine shop will join Harwood District near downtown Dallas

Opening News

There's another addition to the ever-growing world of the Harwood District near downtown Dallas: Called Fig & Favor, it's a local market concept from the Harwood Hospitality Group (HHG), set to open this spring at 2850 N. Harwood St. #110.

According to a release, Fig & Favor will feature daily essentials, gifts, gelato, meals to-go, and wines.

Grab-and-go options will include sandwiches, salads, snacks, and meal kits. There'll be gelato by the scoop and a full espresso bar.

This is HHG’s 12th concept, but it adds a new twist to a portfolio that consists mostly of restaurants. The team behind the concept is Harwood VP of culinary Taylor Kearney and VP of Hospitality Warren Richards.

Some of the to-go options will be dishes from Harwood 11 restaurants.

"We took our customer favorites from sister concepts and put them all together at Fig & Favor," Kearney says. "Look forward to Dolce Rivera’s pasta dishes to take home for an easy dinner, Magnolia: Sous Le Pont’s coffee beans, a sandwich inspired by Mercat Bistro, and steak and jerky from our HWD Beef program - just to name a few."

Richards says that they'll also capitalize on Harwood Hospitality Group's wine lists.

"From the hard-to-find wines at The Parlor, Italian coastal wines at Dolce Riviera, California favorites at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, and French wines at Mercat Bistro, this new concept will give customers a chance to bring a taste of Harwood home," Richards says. "Fig & Favor will feature the best wines from around the world, including some of the popular brands you already know, to smaller vineyards and wines that will broaden your horizons."

The 1,000-square-foot space is in the quaint La Rue Purdue near sister concepts Harwood Arms, Elephant East, and Poco Fiasco. HDF design director Melinda Clark says their goal was to approximate a street in France.

“We designed the space to feel intimate, fresh, and cozy — as though you've left Dallas and found yourself in a corner shop on a charming street in Bordeaux, France," Clark says. "You can expect to find a fix for your snacking cravings, a bottle of wine fit for a client gift, and a perfectly balanced shot of espresso.”

Courtesy photo

Chick-Fil-A chain opens location in fancy downtown Dallas building

Downtown News

The Chick-Fil-A chain has opened a new location in Dallas, which ordinarily would not seem all that surprising, as the Georgia-based chain has more than 2,900 locations across the U.S. including 140 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

But this one is in downtown Dallas, on the ground floor of The National, the high-profile 50-story high rise at 1401 Elm St. on the corner of Akard, la-dee-da.

Owned by Dallas-based Todd Interests, The National is home to six other restaurants and bars that include Monarch, Kessaku, Nine at The National, Catbird, and White Rhino.

This new Chick-Fil-A has to be among the fanciest of its kind, with luxe interiors that match the ultra-fancy The National, including fresh floral arrangements throughout by The Botanical Mix, The National’s in-house florist.

The location is owned by franchisee Joshua Calva, who'll oversee day-to-day activities, including employing approximately 50 full- and part-time staffers and cultivating relationships with local organizations and businesses.

What he won't oversee is a drive-thru lane, since this location will not have one - unusual since much of Chick-Fil-A's business at suburban locations is via drive-thru. Don't even go near a Frisco location at dinnertime unless you're craving a traffic jam, just don't do it, OK.

Calva is familiar with the downtown Dallas community, as he previously served 10 years as the Operator for Chick-fil-A Renaissance Tower, which one can glean from the following quote is now closed.

"I am excited to open and operate Chick-fil-A’s only downtown Dallas location," Calva says. "Being on the ground floor of an historic building like The National is an incredible honor. This new restaurant presents a tremendous opportunity, and we will be uniquely positioned to serve nearby residents, visitors from out of town and daily commuters."

Sweet Tooth Hotel

Downtown Dallas art venue debuts first real-deal Girl Scout cocktails

Cookie News

January 12 is the official kickoff of Girl Scout cookie season, meaning you can now get your Thin Mint Fix as well as order a box of the new special Raspberry Rally flavor, available online only.

But in 2023, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) have collaborated with a hip downtown Dallas lounge to offer Girl Scout cookie flavors in a revolutionary new way: cocktails.

It's going down at Sweet Tooth Hotel, the innovative immersive art venue, which will host the first official cookie cocktail bar in Dallas, at 1511 Elm St.

Beginning January 13, Girl Scouts will take over the lobby area with an interactive photo installation featuring cookie box creations and photo props. Local troops will be setting up shop and selling cookies on weekends.

While many bars and restaurants have concocted their own Girl Scout cookie-themed drinks, this will be the first authorized and official menu with five cocktails, in which GSNETX worked closely with the Sweet Tooth team to ensure that each cocktail would be true to the cookie.

The cocktails were devised by Sweet Tooth bar manager Steven Yeager. Cookies that provided inspiration include Trefoils shortbread, Thin Mints, TagAlongs, Lemon-Ups, and Samoas.

"As we reimagine Girl Scouts for a new generation with even more momentum in 2023, cookie season is no exception," says Jennifer Barkowski, CEO of GSNETX, in a release. "This is a great opportunity to get more people in Dallas buzzing about our cookies and generate greater interest in Girl Scouting and our Entrepreneurial Program."

Sweet Tooth Hotel, which brings together work by most innovative local and national artists, seems like a fitting venue. Their first installation offered five sugar-themed rooms based on brand name treats. They also have a specialty bar featuring whimsical craft cocktails at their downtown Dallas flagship location.

But beyond that, Sweet Tooth Hotel cofounder Jencey Keeton and other Sweet Tooth Hotel staffers have a personal connection, holding fond memories of growing up as Girl Scouts, earning patches, and selling cookies. Jencey still even has her sash.

"The Girl Scouts taught me to be creative, resourceful, and collaborative. I learned all kinds of entrepreneurial and leadership skills that have helped me be successful in my career today," she says. "It's such an amazing organization doing important work for young girls, and we want everyone in the area to know it."

They'll host a kickoff party on Friday, January 13, with DJ Ursa Minor and a green carpet event. Doors open at 7:30 pm. The partnership will extend through National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend, with special events each month, including a Galentine's Party on February 9 and a grand finale "Goodbye Girl Scout" event on March 3.

They still have a few tickets for the kick off event. You can RSVP at https://www.showclix.com/event/girl-scouts-cookie-launch-party.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Spring break staycation ideas zip into this week's 5 most-read Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 10 new ideas for a FOMO-free spring break staycation in Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s spring break time across North Texas. For families who did NOT jet off to ski the slopes or head to the beach, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in Dallas-Fort Worth. We once called this "staying home." Now it's a "staycation!" Here are 10 new ideas for fun things to do, even into the weekend.

2. Dallas police arrest man caught on camera dumping German shepherd. On March 11, the Dallas Police Department Animal Cruelty Unit arrested Ramiro Zuniga, 41, and charged him with Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals – Abandon, an A Misdemeanor charge. An investigation determined that on March 8, Zuniga intentionally abandoned a dog in the 9000 block of Teagarden Road.

3. Big day for music fans with news of a dozen concerts coming to Dallas. For summer concert lovers in Dallas, Monday, March 13 brought a bounty of good news with a big round of tours coming through Texas in 2023. In a single day, details were revealed for tours featuring Drake, TLC, Christopher Cross, Steve Miller Band with Cheap Trick, and Coheed & Cambria.

4. Truck Yard reopens on Dallas' Greenville Ave with famed frogs on the roof. An outdoor hangout on Dallas' Greenville Avenue has reopened with a new nostalgic feature: Truck Yard, which helped usher in the backyard trend that is now de rigeur in the food & beverage world, reopened at 5624 Sears St., AKA across from Trader Joe's, with $2 million in renovations that include an installation of the famed Tango Frogs sculptures.

5. Shop in East Dallas dedicated entirely to pickles closes its doors. A one-of-a-kind shop in East Dallas dedicated to pickles has closed: Pickletopia, a shop at 4812 Bryan St. that sold pickles of all kinds, closed its doors at the end of 2022, and according to its owner, is unlikely to return.

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with cool cocktail specials

Where to Drink

It's always good to support your local watering hole but sometimes the heart wants something else, and even better when it's something cheap. For our March edition of where to drink, we spotlight five drinking opportunities around Dallas that include a seasonally-focused happy hour, a one-day drink special, a new happy hour for the summer, and a new happy hour at an Arts District hotel bar.

Here's Where to Drink in March:

Jinya Ramen Bar
The Dallas location of this sophisticated national Japanese chain joins in on their national "Hanami Hour," which honors the Japanese custom of celebrating cherry blossom season. Starting March 22, they'll be offering a special combo of Nigori Sake and a Spicy Tuna and Salmon Cone for $18. Not exactly sure what that has to do with cherry blossoms? Maybe lost in translation. But a sake special is always a yes. March 22-April 5

New Artisan Distillery
On March 30, the makers of Roxor Gin & Botanical Bourbon are launching a budget-friendly new program for the spring/summer, with a weekday happy hour featuring $5 gin and bourbon cocktails, because gin and bourbon is what they make. Stick around for trivia, karaoke, and a Friday Piano Series on their in-house Steinway Piano. Fancy! The March 30 opener debuts with Trivia Night from Sporcle, whom they say is the leading trivia company in the U.S., and who are we to disagree. Monday-Friday 4-7 pm

Nobu Dallas
Japanese restaurant-bar at the Hotel Crescent Court is part of an international sushi chain from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa that opened in Dallas in 2005 with a celebrity-packed event that included co-owner/investor Robert DeNiro jetting into Dallas to attend. It was exciting! Their happy hour, launched in 2019, has a special name — Tanoshi Hour — and is a killer deal. It features three specialty cocktails, $10 each, that include a lychee & elderflower martini. Plus sake and wine by the glass for $8, Japanese beer for $6, and a menu of snacks including sushi, tacos, and chicken wings, also $10 each. Available in the bar area only, Monday-Friday 5-7 pm

Pyramid Lobby Bar
The bar at the Fairmont Dallas hotel in the Dallas Arts District has a new Texas Happy Hour, with delicious bites and great deals on brews and other beverages, plus live acoustic country music by Tyler Hammond on Thursdays 5-8 p.m. The drink lineup includes $6 Texas draft beers, $10 glasses of wine (house Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Prosecco), and $12 margaritas and Texas mules. Appetizers are $8 and include sweet potato fries, shishito peppers, lamb sliders, and chicken fried deviled eggs. Monday-Friday 2-6 pm, Thursday 11 am-12 am

Sky Blu Rooftop Bar
Design District venue is hosting a cheap-drinking day on March 24 from 4 pm-2 am with a quartet of classic cocktails — the Aperol Spritz, Manhattan, Negroni, and gin martini — for $10. It's just for that day and it's a Tuesday, and you also need to pay $10 for valet. As discount drink experiences go, this one is not the best. But hey, rooftop views, and a discount is a discount. March 24, 4 pm-2 am

Hill Country nature preserve steps up conservancy efforts with new wildlife plans


A Hill Country park is getting some new features and wildlife this year. The Horseshoe Bay Nature Park, located 60 miles northwest of Austin (about three-and-a-half hours from Dallas), will be expanding its conservancy this year through the use of new signage, bee populations, and owls.

The 11-acre park was doomed to become a high-density development by investors until the local community gathered to create HSB Park Inc., a nonprofit organization that would save the land instead. The park opened to the public last year and has since evolved from its fragile state to a place where residents can get closer to nature.

In its first year of operation, the park planted $1,500 worth of Texas wildflower seeds, such as Indian blanket, sleepy daisy, standing cypress, and more. The park also received a $17,571 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) to install 15 interpretive signs with QR codes around the park.

Since its opening, naturalists were able to identify over 235 species of plants and wildlife in the area, which would have never been possible without the local community’s dedication to conservation. Bird watchers identified several native Texas birds such as herons, orchard orioles, bluebirds, and northern cardinals.

Horseshoe Bay Nature Park’s plans for 2023 are to install new signage educating visitors about the park’s wildlife geology, water conservation, and plants along a half-mile walking trail.

They also plan to introduce honey bees throughout the region and work towards attracting screech owls to two constructed owl boxes.

More information about the park can be found on their website.