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Image via Megan Thee Stallion/Instagram; photo by Ramona Rosales for Forbes

Hot Girl Megan Thee Stallion is having yet another red-hot year.

Fresh off dropping her sophomore studio album Traumazine (one that she calls "vulnerable") and hosting Saturday Night Live, the Texas native — née Megan Pete — has made history as the first Black woman to grace the cover of Forbes 30 Under 30 Magazine.

In the new issue, Megan (27) discusses the pressure of releasing a highly anticipated follow-up album, her work ethic (“I’ll take a break when I’m dead,” she tells Forbes), and being authentic as a brand: “I cannot fake it,” she says. “If I’m not naturally into it, I don’t want to sell it.”

Megan Thee Stallion Forbes cover 30 Under 30 The Texas native makes quite the cover model.Image via Megan Thee Stallion/Instagram

In a revealing article, Forbes writer Jabari Young crafts a timeline that succinctly captures Megan's astonishing rocket to the top:

Before she was Megan Thee Stallion, she was Megan Pete. Her mother, Holly Thomas, a bill collector and aspiring rapper, raised her in South Park, a Black neighborhood in Houston. By 2016, Megan was studying nursing at Prairie View A&M, one of the largest historically Black colleges in America, while creating hip-hop videos on YouTube. In 2018, she caught the ear of hip-hop manager Travis Farris, who first heard about Megan from Houston strippers who vouched for her sound.

Fast forward to 2022, where Megan has earned a legion of fans (Hotties) worldwide, been featured in Forbes twice now, landed lucrative deals with Nike, Revlon, Cash App, Popeyes, and Frito-Lay, and magazine covers such as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. She's now worth some $13 million per Forbes and has also netted a deal with Netflix to produce content. (Oh, and she finally got that diploma, too.)

Despite intense personal losses and slights from other superstars, Megan has risen to the point where she'll soon be as synonymous as her idol, fellow Houston native Beyoncé.

“She’s so empowering and so sexy,” rapper Cardi B tells Forbes. “She’s mega-million Megan.”

Sounds like Texas' Hot Girl may have a new moniker.

Twitter

One of Dallas' last rock stations KEGL The Eagle flips to sports talk radio

Radio News

In what is the worst-kept secret in the history of radio, longtime Dallas rock radio station 97.1 "The Eagle" KEGL-FM has changed to a talk radio format, headed up by big radio name Mike Rhyner, effective October 3.

The station has rebranded as 97.1 The Freak, first reported by Richie Whitt on Sports Illustrated, featuring Rhyner, the former co-host of "The Hardline" afternoon show on 1310/96.7 The Ticket KTCK, from 1994 until he retired in January 2020.

"It is finally here, The Freak weekday afternoons from 3 until 7 pm, I can't tell you how happy I am to be here," Rhyner said, before welcoming what he called his "longtime soulmate," Mike Sirois.

Other programming on the channel will include personalities from SportsMap, the national sports radio network owned by Houston-based Gow Media, which also owns CultureMap. Airing on The Freak will be SportsMap Radio's Jason Page, who hosts a show called The Cash In, and Cole Thompson, who hosts a show called Just Sayin' It; they'll debut on October 3 at 10 pm.

Before unveiling The Freak, the station aired a quick history of KEGL's previous formats including rock, top 40, even Spanish oldies, since its 1981 launch, with eras featuring Kidd Kraddick, pop, grunge, and Howard Stern.

In their opening, Rhyner and Sirois discussed the weekend broadcast that led up to the switch.

"We had freak songs all weekend and then Tom Petty's 'The Waiting' all day long — this is called stunting," Rhyner said. "That's what radio stations did, to find some way to while away the hours, but not give away too much."

The new lineup is as follows:

  • 7-11 am: The Speakeasy with Jeff Cavanaugh, Kevin “KT” Turner, Julie Dobbs and Matt Cather
  • 11 am-3 pm: The Ben & Skin Show with Ben Rogers, Jeff “Skin” Wade, Krystina “K-Ray” Ray and Michael “Grubes” Gruber
  • 3-7 pm: The Downbeat featuring Rhyner, Sirois and Gruber

While Rhyner is known for helping to co-found the concept of sports radio, KEGL owner iHeartRadio is describing the new format as “We Talk About What We Want" — so not just sports, but "Guy Talk."

"We're going to be given the latitude to talk about whatever we want," Rhyner said. "Everyone here has a substantial sports background, we are sports radio nerds. But we also have another side to our radio profile and we're going to be allowed to explore that without fear of program director retribution. They know what we're going to do and they said, 'Go get 'em, boys.'"

"Welcome back to the show that apparently never ends," Rhyner said.

Photo by Shelley Neuman

An expert's trail guide to the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin

Everything is Political

Believe it or not, politics can be fun, even if it’s all you talk about for days. The Texas Tribune is proving that once again with incumbent CEO Evan Smith’s last Texas Tribune Festival. From September 22-24, this long-standing annual event will bring together more than 350 influential speakers for more than 100 panels, from politicians in office to journalists and cultural wave-makers.

“It's become a major part of the Tribune's brand,” says Smith. “An important person I respect said to me in 2019, looking around the festival that year — the last year we did it in person — that we used to be a news organization with a festival, and we're becoming a festival with a news organization. And I thought, I'm actually okay with that.”

Smith announced his impending departure from the Tribune in January 2022, in a simultaneously wistful and tongue-in-cheek farewell address that acknowledged his “sentimentality and nostalgia.” He will be finished with his tenure by December, but will continue through 2023 as a senior advisor to his yet-unnamed replacement.

“I will be sentimental about it being my last. Of course, I'm also nostalgic, and I'll be nostalgic about the early days of the festival,” says Smith. “But one of the great things about leaving the Tribune now is that everybody here is in the best possible position to carry the important work that we've been doing forward to the next 13 years. And so I'll be watching like everybody else, with a lot of pride.”

This year, the festival broadened its scope from 2021 and earlier to include even more interests tangential to politics, aiming for the same bullseye as the Tribune always does: the average reader. The festival is always as jargon-free as possible, this year including topics like Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner’s memoir and 50 years of cultural change, retired top tennis player Andy Roddick’s opinions on the duties of nonprofits, and singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s experience as a Texas legend.

To help attendees start building their itineraries (or give keen readers at home some things to research), Smith selected the following must-attend events for CultureMap readers to keep on their radar.

Thursday, September 22
Thursday is a shorter day with “a couple of sessions to get peoples’ appetites going,” according to Smith. Of the 10 events, he chose two not to miss:

A Conversation with Katy Tur
9:30 am - 10:30 am

The MSNBC anchor will discuss journalism with Smith himself, with special attention to her recent second book that stretches all the way back through her childhood, Rough Draft: A Memoir. This chat will be in-person, kicking off the festival.

One-on-One with Anthony Fauci
10:30 am - 11:30 am

This prerecorded conversation is only available virtually. Smith interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the U.S. president, about the “layered” public health emergencies of COVID-19 and monkeypox as it emerges.

Friday, September 23
This mid-size day has 43 scheduled sessions. Smith chose one from each time slot:

One-on-One with Glenn Youngkin
8:45 am - 9:45 am

The Virginia governor is, in Smith’s words, “one of the big Republican success stories of the last couple of years,” and will be interviewed by senior correspondent David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. Some speculate that Youngkin will run for president in 2024.

The Forward Presents: One-on-One with Deborah Lipstadt
10:15 am - 11:15 am

U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt is talking about the issue nationally and worldwide, interviewed by Forward editor-in-chief Jodi Ruth Warren.

One-on-One with Walter Isaacson
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tulane University professor Walter Isaacson discusses Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and his current work with Elon Musk. He is interviewed by Pushkin Productions CEO Jacob Weisberg, former editor-in-chief of the Slate Group.

One-on-One with Hillary Clinton
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is interviewed by New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher about progressive values in the United States. Swisher runs the Vox Media Code Conference, and is no stranger to the stage.

One-on-One with Ben McKenzie
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Austin-born actor and writer Ben McKenzie is one Austinite speaking out on a large scale about “the case against crypto” as the city grows more and more entangled with it. He is interviewed by Bloomberg Digital executive editor for news Joe Weisenthal.

Saturday, September 24
The longest day of the festival, Saturday hosts 68 sessions. Smith chose one for each time slot:

After Roe
8:45 am - 9:45 am

This panel addressing one of the hottest topics in recent politics is run by Ana Marie Cox of The Cut, and features Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, Texas state representative Donna Howard, and former state senator Wendy Davis, famous for her abortion filibuster.

One-on-One with Annette Gordon-Reed
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard professor Annette Gordon Reed discusses the legacy of slavery and the morals of studying history. She is interviewed by Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th, founded by former Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw.

One-on-One with Ted Cruz
10:30 am - 11:30 am

U.S. Senator and Texan Ted Cruz is slated to talk on Saturday, although he hasn’t yet been matched with a conversation partner. He’ll talk about tension with the Biden administration, the “soul” of the Republican party, and a possible reprisal of his 2016 presidential campaign.

One-on-One with Chris Bosh
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh is interviewed by ESPN commentator Kirk Goldsberry on sports, being retired, and voting. Bosh has spoken out about social justice, and always ties it to a message of using one’s voice to create change.

Below the Line
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and urban development Julián Castro joins former mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs and ProPublica-Texas Tribune investigative reporter Vianna Davila to discuss Texans living disproportionately below the poverty line.

One-on-One with Gavin Newsom
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

California Governor Gavin Newsom takes a leadership role, telling MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner about what the rest of the United States can learn from his state. The Democratic governor leans toward messaging about innovation and creating precedent-setting big change.

Tickets for the Texas Tribune Festival ($269 general admission) from September 22 to 24, both virtually and in venues across Austin, are available at texastribune.org.

Instagram

Tik Tok stunt star Ryan Bean leaps off bridge into Dallas' Trinity River

Tik Tok News

A Tik Tok star has done something most in Dallas would never be caught dead doing: jumping into the Trinity River.

Ryan Bean, a native of Utah famous for his stunts, back flips, and daring jumps, took a dive off a bridge in Dallas, landing in the Trinity below. The jump has been documented on Instagram and can be seen here.

He currently has 271,000 followers on Instagram where he posted the video on July 19. It has 28,000 views.

The bridge he jumps from is the former Continental Avenue Bridge, now called the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge.

Bean's jump-off point is the thick chrome rod inset onto the bridge barricade as a handrail. He takes a running jump and slides onto the rod, a stunt known as a "rail slide" in the skateboarding world, facing out onto the water. He then flips around in air so that his back is to the water, before taking a breathtaking dive.

Bean was dared into the leap by his running buddy and fellow Tik Tok/Instagram star Travis Sims, a professional cliff diver and environmentalist who has been diving for more than 10 years, from performing in high diving shows to jumping epic cliffs.

Founder of The Cliff Cruise, a roving freestyle competition festival that took place in Austin in late-June, Sims posted a video of his leap from the bridge on June 30, saying, "Swamps need love too. Spotted this bridge while zooming on the highway with @_ryan.bean_ so naturally I took the next exit and we checked it out. Turned out being a perfect 60-ish footer but just please don't talk to us about the monster we saw in the water, DON'T wanna think about that thing ever again."

Bean, who grew up in St. George, Utah, has been doing extreme stunts since he was young, some resulting in accidents such as the time in 2018 when he did a backflip into a pool, hit his head, and sank. His mother said that stunts were something he'd always done, from tricks in the living room to flips on the trampoline.

"He’s been doing flips and stuff since he was 8 years old," she said.

"Ryan Bean isn't your ordinary stuntman," says Greatest Highlights, a media site that tracks extreme sports, which has a video showing the high-flying leaps and dives he's taken off bridges, mountaintops, swings, rooftops, and other elevated spots. "Ryan Bean is a teenager from Utah with an appetite to conquer the world of stunts, one cliff jump at a time," they say.

With the Dallas jump, your average viewer would be agog merely at the physical skills Bean displays — balancing on a cable along the side of the bridge, spinning out into a three-point tumble, diving hundreds of feet into the water.

But your Dallas viewer is likely more agog at the fact that Bean is willing to bodily enter the Trinity River, which horrified commenters note could possibly contain alligators, or be too shallow for such a long jump.

"I couldn’t even focus on anything but that dirty ass water," one says.

"Sick flip, but the water you jumped in here in Dallas is sicker," says one.

"Bro took a dip in Dead Body River," says another.

"Congrats you just caught every disease in Dallas," says a third.

"You will need to get on antibiotics after jumping in the Trinity," suggests one reader.

"No ma'am," Bean says politely.

Texas Rangers

Vegan soft-serve king scores naming rights to wiffle ball park in Arlington

Arena News

The Texas Rangers have created a new kid-friendly feature inside Globe Life Field. Called Oatly Park, it's a free wiffle ball park that'll be open during games for kids who want to take a swing.

According to a release, it'll make its debut on July 8.

Kids 12 and under who attend a Rangers game at Globe Life Field will be able to take five swings for free. It'll be open 30 minutes prior to the start of each game and will stay open until the end of the game.

It's a fenced-in park located in the upper-level center-field concourse above the Grand Slam Team Store, near section 233.

The Rangers previously had a wiffle ball park at The Ballpark in Arlington from 1995-2011. Now they've brought it back, says ballpark executive VP Chuck Morgan.

"Not a game day goes by without a Rangers fan letting me know that some of their best memories at The Ballpark in Arlington were hitting wiffle ball home runs at a Rangers game — it could be one of the best ideas I have ever had," Morgan says. Gotta love someone with self confidence.

Interesting that it's named for Oatly, which an Oatly spokesperson says reflects the oat milk company's tight partnership with the Rangers.

In 2021, Globe Life Field introduced oat milk soft-serve ice cream as part of their partnership. They were one of the first in the U.S. to serve this irresistible vegan treat, available in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla, as well as an option for a swirl.

That's when Oatly became the Official Sustainability Partner of the Texas Rangers, which included touches such as a Kids Zone and a giant Oatly carton display.

Oatly, which sells nondairy milk, ice cream, and yogurt made from oats, is also building a production facility in Fort Worth, anticipated to open in 2023.

And now they've scored naming rights to this new Globe Life Field amenity. I mean, it's no Starplex, but "Oatly Park" has an OK ring.

"We've loved partnering with the Texas Rangers to bring Oatly's non-dairy treats to the Globe Life stadium and we're proud that they've been a hit with fans so far," says Oatly's senior director of communications Mary-Kate Smitherman.

"Oatly Park was a natural extension of our partnership and a really fun way to bring a unique experience to life for kids of any age, adults included, to show off their baseball skills," Smitherman says. "Look for the gigantic Oatly carton at the stadium, you can't miss it, and give it your best shot for a wiffle ball home run!"

Oatly Park will be open for play beginning July 8, as the Rangers return to Arlington for a 10-game homestand, beginning with the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. The game is said to start at 7:05 pm, so one presumes the whiffle ball action will begin at 6:35 pm.

Facebook/Bisnow

SMU grad and media exec Will Friend dies in lightning strike at age 33

R.I.P., Will

Will Friend, a Southern Methodist University graduate who helped build the Bisnow media brand, died over the Fourth of July weekend after being struck by lightning. He was 33 years old.

The deadly lightning strike happened July 3 while Friend was boating off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel performed CPR for about 20 minutes, but they weren’t able to resuscitate Friend, according to TV station WECT.

Friend, who was born in the United Kingdom, would have celebrated his 34th birthday July 9. Survivors include his wife, Oak Tree Hill star Bevin Prince. The couple lived in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, just east of Wilmington.

Friend is the third lightning-related fatality this year in the U.S., the National Lightning Safety Council says.

At the time of his death, Friend was CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Bisnow, which publishes commercial real estate news and hosts business events. He joined Bisnow in 2010, following his graduation from SMU’s Cox School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2013 and CEO in late 2014.

“What made Will special was his innate ability to inspire and motivate people — to raise people higher than they thought possible,” Gregg Mayer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Bisnow, says in a statement. “That is the culture he fostered at Bisnow and, ultimately, that will be his lasting legacy.”

Chris Powers, founder and executive chairman of Fort Worth real estate investment firm Fort Capital, knew Friend. In an interview with The Real Deal, Powers described Friend as an “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur,” citing his ability to push through challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Will was a trusted partner, executive and a friend. He approached every opportunity and challenge with extreme confidence and optimism which was infectious to everyone surrounding him,” says Daniel Kortick, managing partner of New York City investment firm The Wicks Group, which purchased Bisnow in 2016. “We mourn the loss of such a quality human being, and we will miss Will and all that he brought to the world.”

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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."