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Kristina Rowe

A fun entertainment venue with high-tech and old-school gaming has arrived in Dallas: Called Two Bit Circus, it's a concept from Los Angeles that combines a game arcade with virtual reality for groups and fans of all ages.

Two Bit was founded by Brent Bushnell (son of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) and Eric Gradman in 2018, who opened their first location in downtown Los Angeles. Dallas is their first expansion outside of California, and they're located at the Shops at Park Lane.

In anticipation of its November 18 opening day, Two Bit Circus president Kim Schaefer led media through a tour of the 35,000-square-foot space, promising that "you don't have to be into gaming, you just have to like to have fun."

"We want this to be a place where people put away their phones and enjoy time together," Shaefer said. "From families to dating couples to coworkers, it's fun for anyone from 8 to 58."

I really liked the mix of old and new and the tongue-in-cheek references to carnival things. Also, I'm not their typical customer, and I found it easy and inviting to play the games even though I'm not at all into gaming.

The space is broken down into areas that include:

The Midway boasts easy-to-play games where players can get physical such as the game where players throw balls at balloons to pop them, similar to the popular mobile game "Bejeweled." One game, "Mother Ducker," lets players steer large wheels to aim at targets on a duck pond; it's exclusive to the Dallas location.

The VR Arena, which uses virtual reality headsets to create an array of different worlds with a choice of robots, dragons, zombies, and more including single-player experiences such as "Birdly: Jurassic Park," which simulates flying. You lie down on a platform, don a VR headset, and move your arms to flap your "wings," soar, dive, and navigate potential obstacles on the landscape.

Story Rooms are like escape rooms but without the sense of dread or need to escape anything, and they engage everyone in your group, since each player must help the team complete the task.

Tasks might include performing surgery in Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School or a hilarious take on the "I Love Lucy" out-of-control candy factory line that will keep players laughing as they work at a breakneck pace to make candy.

Jelly Attack, another unique-to-Dallas experience, uses virtual reality but without headsets. Digital foes are projected on all four walls of the room, and since the action is projected around the room with no screen boundaries, the activity is especially accommodating for players using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

The Arcade includes classics like "Ms. Pac Man," "Centipede", "Street Fighter 2;" newer arcade games like "Killer Queen" and "Heavy Burger;" and some Two Bit Circus originals.

Food & Drink

Kristina Rowe

Two players play a midway game at Two Bit Circus by throwing balls at a screen displaying vitrual balloons.

Two Bit Circus

Kristina Rowe

The VIP Lounge at Two Bit Circus.

Two Bit Circus

arcade

The Arcade at Two Bit Circus offers classic, late-model, and custom game experiences.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School is one of several themed story rooms at Two Bit Circus in Dallas.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Between gaming rounds, players can grab a seat at the bar.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

The menu includes big-top classics like hot dogs, corny dogs, plus chicken tenders, a chicken sandwich, pizza by the slice, wings, burgers, fries, and nachos. Snacks include popcorn, pretzels, ice cream, and cotton candy.

A full bar complete with a robot bartender has cocktails plus a dozen beers on tap; a VIP lounge offers bottle service.

Location & Pricing

The venue is at 8303 Park Ln. #200, but I had a hard time finding the place, and apparently I wasn't the only one. The entrance is actually via a parking garage, but The Shops at Park Lane has multiple parking garages and entries, and if you pick the wrong one, Two Bit Circus is not easy to find.

The pricing is also confusing. They call everything a "package" but it's basically a cover charge, and for a single player, it starts at $35. In its simplest state, you'll buy a card with a value of $35, $50, or $100 (or $25 each for a family of four.) You wave the card over a pay pad on the games and you also use the card for food and drinks.

You'll almost certainly end up spending more money. And everyone has to buy a package, including parents who weren't planning on playing. The games may be easy to play, but figuring out how much credit you need and which package it fits into is more of a challenge than it needs to be.

Vaquero: Westlake's luxurious, gated, private community and golf club

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in North Texas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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"We have been working in the neighborhood for the past 10 years," says real estate agent JL Forke, "and Vaquero is one of the most unique communities in all of Texas."

A gated neighborhood in Westlake that's close to Southlake Town Square and DFW International Airport, Vaquero is also home to the parents of Forke's real estate partner, Jennifer Shindler.

"We love the relaxed environment — as soon as you enter the gate, you feel like you are on vacation," Shindler says. "Vaquero is where the city ends and living begins."

Forke and Shindler offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Vaquero. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
If you live in Vaquero, you are almost certainly a member of the Vaquero Club. Its clubhouse is perched atop a hill for the best views, and offers dining options that range from formal to casual to outdoors by the fire pit. And if you don't feel like dining out, the club restaurant will deliver food right to your door.

Where to play
"When you become a member of the club, you gain access to a lot of neighborhood amenities including golf, tennis, pickleball, group activities, swimming, the gym, and a stocked fishing pond," says Shindler.

"The clubhouse also has a kids club, which allows parents to have a date night at the club," says Forke. And, speaking of children: Those in the neighborhood have the opportunity to attend Westlake Academy, a nationally ranked K-12 charter school operating under the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Shindler personally enjoys a round of golf, while Forke likes to explore the neighborhood's many trails and lakes.

Where to live
Vaquero has various custom homes, and the pair says there is a type of home for every architectural taste, including French, Santa Barbara-style, Texas Hill Country, Mediterranean, and contemporary.

The pair has sold many homes in the neighborhood, but their most recent is a gorgeous example of Vaquero's high-quality building.

2211 Vaquero Estates Blvd. is a Santa Barbara-style home that was fully reimagined by David Stocker, AIA and principal of SHM Architects, with interiors by designer Barry Williams.

Before going on the market, it underwent a two-year renovation that included a showstopping kitchen with a butler's pantry and bar, a primary suite with two oversized closets, a Crestron whole-house AV system, Lutron lights, and floor-to-ceiling steel-and-glass back walls that offer views of the resort-style backyard.

A game room, home theater, elevator, and separate golf-cart garage complete the dream dwelling.

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JL Forke and Jennifer Shindler work and play in Vaquero. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jshindler@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-215-5181.

Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Midway Hollow: A blend of home styles with a strong sense of community

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Looking for a mix of more established homes and new-builds? You'll find it in Midway Hollow, just north of Dallas Love Field Airport and west of Preston Hollow.

Real estate agent Jennifer Shindler has lived there for five years, enticed by its central location and nearby amenities. However, she and her business partner, JL Forke, have been introducing others to the neighborhood for nearly 15 years.

"We love the sense of community, character, large lot sizes, mature trees, and the different types of architecture throughout the neighborhood," says Shindler.

Forke and Shindler offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Midway Hollow. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"Suze Restaurant," recommends Forke. "It’s the best date night spot, and we love to meet clients there. Great food, cocktails, and wine."

The neighborhood Central Market is also a big asset, as is Fernando's Mexican Cuisine with its crowd-pleasing patio.

Where to play
"Midway Hollow is definitely a nice place to go on neighborhood walks under a canopy of trees," says Shindler. "You'll see plenty of kids out playing and dogs being walked. It’s also fun to cross Midway Road and walk the hills of Old Preston Hollow."

Being so close to Dallas Love Field Airport means easy access to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, and Bachman Lake is also nearby.

Where to live
The pair points out that most of the neighborhood's original homes are 1950s ranch-style, with some midcentury modern homes sprinkled in here and there. There is also a lot of new construction that runs the gamut from traditional to transitional to contemporary.

One such transitional new-build is 4163 Park Ln., a recent sale that was listed by the duo for $1,800,000.

It features wide-plank hardwood floors, 11-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, and Jeld-Wen wood-clad windows. Two living areas, a study, and the primary suite are downstairs, while a game room and three ensuite bedrooms are upstairs.

The open-concept kitchen features an island, quartz countertops, and GE Monogram appliances (including a built-in refrigerator). The primary suite offers a sitting area, marble floors in the bathroom, a separate tub and shower, and a custom closet that rivals a small boutique.

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JL Forke and Jennifer Shindler live, work, and play in Midway Hollow. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jshindler@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-215-5181.

Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Agents Jennifer Shindler and JL Forke

Northaven Park: Where the Disney Streets cast their magic on residents

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Perhaps the most well-known part of Northaven Park is its southeast section, aptly known as the Disney Streets. There, midcentury modern and traditional-style homes line streets with names like Snow White Drive, Cinderella Lane, Pinocchio Drive, and Wonderland Trail.

The neighborhood certainly worked its magic on real estate agent Libby Hamer, who moved there in 2020 from nearby Midway Hollow.

"My husband and I have had our eye on Northaven Park since our daughter, Brooke, was born. Once our second child, Caleb, was born, we couldn't wait to move to the neighborhood. We fell in love with the green space: the parks, the playgrounds, the trail, and the creek."

Hamer also praises the area's convenient location, which offers easy access to private schools, I-635, and the Tollway. "You can get to almost anywhere in Dallas, and even Frisco and Plano, within 25 minutes," she says.

The voluntary neighborhood association, Northaven Park Neighborhood Association, hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year that bring people of all interests and backgrounds together.

"Yes, many neighborhoods have happy, smiling neighbors walking about, but the people here are so engaging," Hamer says. "A quick hello can turn into neighbors standing on the greenbelt by the creek chatting for an hour. It's a neighborhood that people keep coming back to. I've met so many people who grew up in the neighborhood, went to Harry C. Withers Elementary School (the public elementary located in the center of the neighborhood), and came back here either to raise their own families or as empty nesters."

Hamer offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Northaven Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
In addition to popular Dallas chains Village Burger Bar and Meso Maya, Hamer recommends Republic Texas Tavern, Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, Ziziki's, Ku Sushi & Japanese Cuisine, Franki's Pizza & Pasta, Ginger Thai Cuisine, and Cindi's NY Deli & Restaurant.

Where to play
The neighborhood's namesake, Northaven Park, obviously makes the list for outdoorsy fun. "Northaven Park is always bustling with activity," Hamer says. "It offers two tennis courts, a basketball court, two softball fields, sports fields (used for lacrosse and soccer practices), and a huge, shady area by Joe's Creek on the west side of the park that has a playground and picnic tables. Residents love to feed the turtles and fish in the creek."

Other recreation options include the Semones Family YMCA, the Northaven Trail, and We Rock the Spectrum indoor playground.

Galleria Dallas is nearby for more shopping and dining, as are the shops and restaurants at Preston Road and Forest Lane and Preston Road and Royal Lane.

Where to live
Northaven Park is known for large, beautiful lots — the average lot size in the neighborhood is just over a third of an acre. These generous lots offer plenty of privacy and spacious backyards that are perfect for children, dogs, pools, and entertaining.

"You'll find many ranch-style homes that were built in the 1960s and early '70s that average 2,500 to 3,000 square feet with three to four bedrooms," Hamer says. "However, we're also seeing a lot of new-builds and extensive renovations around the neighborhood."

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Libby Hamer lives, works, and plays in Northaven Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email lhamer@briggsfreeman.com, or call 817-875-6506.

Photo courtesy of Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty

Lakewood: The neighborhood that keeps its small-town vibe

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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For Jason Clark, convincing people to move to his neighborhood is not a hard job. The real estate agent moved to Lakewood in 2018, and since then he's been an advocate for the area and its small-town, neighborhood feel.

"The walkability and community vibe are what I love about Lakewood," Clark says. "Everyone always has a smile, and there's a sense of pride and history wherever you go — whether it's having Italian food at Scalini's or walking through the Arboretum to see their beautiful seasonal displays."

Clark, who is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist and has more than 22 years of experience in real estate, offered up a few of his personal favorites about life in Lakewood. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
" Scalini's is my favorite," Clark says, though The Heights, Mi Cocina, The Balcony Club, Hudson House, Meso Maya, and Smoky Rose each have their turn when it's time for a night out.

Where to play
White Rock Lake is the jewel of Lakewood, with many celebrities choosing to live right by its shores. You can walk or bike the 9.33 miles around it, or spend a day at the popular dog park.

The Santa Fe Trail connects White Rock to Deep Ellum, meaning you can head into the city for a concert or meal without ever having to get in your car.

Tietze Park boasts a playground, picnic area, pool, and sports facilities, making it a versatile option for recreation.

What to see
Spanning 66 lush acres, the Dallas Arboretum sits on the shores of White Rock Lake — the Cool Thursdays concert series always includes a stunning sunset over the water.

Though the 1938-built Lakewood Theater no longer shows movies, you can catch live music performances on its historic stage or knock down some pins in its bowling alley, Bowlski's.

Where to live
"Home styles here vary from traditional to transitional to modern," Clark says. "Lakewood is ever-changing, but always manages to keep its charming feel."

"I can’t say enough good things about Jason," says one client. "He took over a property that had been on the market for more than 300 days with no activity, and made a plan and executed it. He had the property staged, met every person that viewed it, and kept me well-informed."

Once the home went under contract, Clark took care of everything down to the repairs — all the seller had to do was show up to closing. And, even then, he had the title company go to the seller for signatures.

"In all my years, I have never been happier or treated better," the client says. "Jason’s knowledge, passion, and care for his clients is unparalleled and I cannot thank him enough."

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Jason Clark lives, works, and plays in Lakewood. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email jclark@briggsfreeman.com, or call 662-279-9191.

Far North Dallas: Where shops, restaurants, and recreation abound

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Dallas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Though they met and fell in love while living in Maui, Christine and Patrick Burke knew that one day they'd return to Texas to be closer to family. Specifically, Far North Dallas where Christine grew up.

After settling back into the Lone Star State in 2008, the two Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty agents began helping others buy and sell in their neighborhood in 2011.

"We love how convenient this area is to all of Dallas," says Patrick. "We love being so close to Addison and all its restaurants. It's very family-friendly and all services and amenities are really close by."

The Burkes offered up a few of their personal favorites about life in Far North Dallas. Here's their guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
You can't go wrong with Neighborhood Services or Hudson House in Addison, the pair says. There's also Lupe Tortilla in Addison, Haystack in Hillcrest Village, and Lavendou on Preston Road near the President George Bush Turnpike.

Where to play
Besides plenty of restaurants, the new Hillcrest Village park area boasts a green space and playground. A bevy of country clubs can satisfy your need for golf and tennis: Bent Tree Country Club, Northwood Club, and Prestonwood Country Club, while T Bar M Racquet Club is one of the most prestigious tennis clubs in Texas and The Cove Aquatic Center at Fretz Park is the best place to take a refreshing dip.

Vitruvian Park offers live entertainment on occasion and some spectacular lights during the holidays, while Addison Circle Park hosts Kaboom Town, the largest 4th of July fireworks display in DFW.

What to see
Arts and culture abounds here, from WaterTower Theatre to Valley House Gallery to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

Where to live
"There are a lot of traditional ranch-style homes built in the 1950s and '60s, some two-story homes from the 1970s and '80s, and even contemporary and modern homes built more recently. There is no one style of home here," says Patrick. "You'll find everything from homes suitable for first-time buyers to large estate homes on acreage. There is truly something for every buyer in Far North Dallas."

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Christine and Patrick Burke live, work, and play in Far North Dallas. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email cburke@briggsfreeman.com, or call 214-803-2960 and 214-862-4147.

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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."