Hope floats

Two Cedar Springs institutions — 1 new, 1 old —make their debuts in this year’s Pride parade

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

MAKING AN ENTRANCE | Jorge Rivas’ shot of prominent LGBT faces, above, will be marched out Sunday on the ilume float; the staff of Hunky’s, below left, retooled their float idea in a hurry. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

TEXAS FREEDOM PARADE
Proceeds east along
Cedar Springs Road from
Wycliffe Avenue to
N. Hall Street. 2 p.m.

……………………………………

Hunky’s has been a Crossroads institution for 25 years — though most of that half a block over from its current location. The gayborhood and the burger stop are officially symbiotic.

So it may surprise those who have watched the Alan Ross Freedom Parade from Hunky’s patio to know this year marks the eatery’s debut as a float entrant. And owner Rick Barton is a bit nervous.

“I kinda got into it a little late,” he admits.

Barton was sounding a bit frazzled just days before Pride, figuring how the hamburger joint would celebrate its coming out. Barton researched the idea of having a float constructed, but he and his crew opted to go simple this year — mostly because he has a restaurant to think about.

““That day is busy for us — the parade obviously means good business,” he says. “So we decided not to go with a big float and toned it down to a vehicle with some of our employees handing coupons out and guys along the side of our Jeep performing.”

Regardless of what the restaurant enters, the real question is: Why now? A quarter century is a long time to wait to join in the parade.


“We just had our anniversary and I just thought, ‘It’s time to be in,’” Barton says. “Even though we’re in the center of the community and show our Pride everyday, it lets people see we are here and feel a need to be in.”

His decision coincides nicely with the spot’s new digs. Hunky’s anchored the northwest corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, becoming an iconic location for the neighborhood. But this spring, they jumped across the street, taking over the corner left vacant by Crossroads Market. Change was hard though Barton received enthusiastic response from the regulars.

But the move wasn’t just a physical one. Relocating mere yards from the former spot has affected his eatery and the employees in only good ways. That attitude is coming through in their first parade appearance on Sunday.

“There’s a renewed invigoration with the new space,” he says. “There we became limited by what we could do and it started to become staid. We were just riding the boat. Here, the employees are responding well, the customers are, too. It’s a feel- good kind of vibe.”

That translates into a team effort for Hunky’s preparation for Sunday. Barton might make it sound like it was just thrown together, but he smiles with pride in his teams from both the Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff locations in working to get it done.

“It’s all come together pretty quickly,” he says. “But with the employees helping out and coming over from the other location, it’s become a Hunky’s family kinda gig. One of our employees is one of the guys performing alongside the Jeep.”

It took the ilume just a year to make its impact on the ‘hood and it is living up to its commitment to be part of the community with its inaugural Pride float. The living spaces are snazzy; nosh spots Dish and Red Mango seem to be thriving, and the pool is becoming legendary for parties and Facebook pics. The ilume Gallerie, however, takes the lead for their float in the parade, thanks to gallery director Ronald Radwanski.

“We’ll have 48-by-72-inch panels of portraits on our float,” Radwanski says. “Some people will be on the float and others like me will be walking along.”

The Gallerie will be coasting along with a mobile museum. The gallery on wheels ties into the Faces of Life exhibit now at the Gallerie, which highlightsluminaries in Dallas’ LGBT community with larger-than-life portraits, each individual adorned with a large red ribbon. The shots were taken by photographer Jorge Rivas, who made a splash at the Gallerie earlier this year with his images of fashion and culture.

Going big is a huge undertaking, but Radwanski assures they are on schedule.

“They’ve started constructing it already and the enlarged portraits are being printed,” he says. “I’m so excited that we can mark a year of the ilume with this float in the parade. That it also benefits LifeWalk makes it much more so.”

Big or small, young or old, both establishments look beyond what they have going in the parade and instead, a reveling in the idea of being  a part of it all. Besides, things could change for 2011.

“After this time, we might just go all out with the big float idea next year,” Barton says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dozens of vehicles vandalized at ilume

Dallas police estimate that 20-25 vehicles were vandalized Sunday afternoon while parked in the garage at ilume, the posh new development on the Cedar Springs strip.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said the vehicles appeared to have been “keyed,” although the suspect could have used a screwdriver or anything sharp.

Janse said only four victims have called in reports to police thus far, but it’s estimated that 20-25 vehicles were damaged. He added that there’s no reason to believe the incident was an anti-gay hate crime.

Janse said police have no suspect description, and there were no security cameras in the area of the garage where the incidents occurred.

Total monetary damages are unknown, but one victim who reported the incident estimated $3,000 in damage to his Hummer.

—  John Wright

Dish drags up its decor with Lady Bunny

I spoke this afternoon with Tim McEnery, owner of  Dish restaurant at the ilume, and he informed me of some changes set to take place there soon.

If you’ve been to the hit eatery in the gayborhood, you have have noticed the recessed, elevated dining area which looks like it could be a stage. Well, McEnery noticed that, too, and that’s what it could become. Plans are in place to add a semi-opaque curtain to run the length of the area that would filter about 70 percent of visibility, making it ideal for private dining and mixers. But it also makes it a great space as a stage for late-night entertainment.

Starting soon, on Friday and Saturday nights from about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., that space will give way to drag shows, DJs and the like. The dining crowd usually slows down by then, so it seems like a good fit, McEnery says, as Dish remains open with a full bar as well as waiter service to the tables. Already booked to fill the space is The Lady Bunny, pictured — not the flat bread, which is delicious there — who will play there Pride weekend.

And they are already looking forward to sometime in the next two or three weeks opening up the patio once the weather cools down.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Logo’s ‘Bump’ highlights Dallas

Wednesday night (and again Thursday morning), Logo aired an episode of the travel series Bump! that profiled Dallas. And Dallas looked damn good in it. Of course, anything near host Charlie David is bound to bask in his reflected beauty, but still.

The episode, which was filmed during last year’s Pride Weekend, painted the well-rounded portrait of gay Dallas we know to be the reality. Yes, they hit the Round-Up Saloon with the two-stepping queerboys, but we also got interviews with drag diva Wayne Smith and mayoral chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh; a scrimmage with gay rugby players the Dallas Diablos, pictured; and a session with NOH8 creator Adam Bouska, who picked Dallas as his first locale outside California. Plus there were scenes of the parade, a stop by Blythe Beck’s kitchen at Central 214 and other things that set Dallas apart. (The ep was actually screened at a preview party last week at the ilume, which got plenty of good press as well.)

The episode is set to re-air next week. Take a look, and see how gay America sees Big D.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Beyond the Box to become pizzeria; developer says closure not a sign that ilume is struggling

Owner Doug Brown is shown inside Beyond the Box on the day it opened in early December.

Beyond the Box, an upscale deli/restaurant/convenience store that was one of three retailers at ilume on Cedar Springs, closed last week about eight months after opening.

Luke Crosland, chairman and CEO of ilume developer the Crosland Group, said Beyond the Box likely will be replaced in the near future by a “unique pizzeria.”

Beyond the Box just wasn’t the right fit, Crosland said, and the closure shouldn’t be viewed as any indication that the posh mixed-use development is struggling.

“I want to be positive about it because [Beyond the Box owner] Doug [Brown] is a great chef, and he’s the executive chef at Dish,” Crosland said.

“We’re going to use most of the items in the restaurant, and I think we’re going to have a better-for-the-neighborhood operation,” he added. “When you’ve got Kroger across the street, and you don’t have to drive, maybe the idea of having prepared food rather than served food was not the right component.”

Crosland said a sushi lounge is slated to open at ilume sometime in September. Also in the works are a restaurant from the executive chef at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M.; and a salon/nail and facial spa.

Crosland said residential units at ilume are now 90 percent occupied, with only about 29 units remaining.

“We’re doing extremely well,” he said. “I’m real excited about the formula we’ve got there.”

The Crosland Group also plans another development, ilume TOO, across Cedar Springs at the site of the old Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs apartments. Crosland said the company is working to obtain financing for ilume TOO.

—  John Wright

Sushi coming to the Cedar Springs strip, as ilume announces another retail tenant

The Crosland Group, developer of ilume, has formally announced a fourth retail tenant at the new mixed-used complex on Cedar Springs Road.

Fin Sushi, a Japanese fusion restaurant, will occupy 4,000 square feet on the southeast corner of ilume, according to a press release we just received. (The Voice first reported that Fin Sushi was coming to ilume in February.)

Fin Sushi, expected to open in September, will join Red Mango, Beyond the Box and Dish, all three of which have already opened. The press release states that Fin Sushi, offering a menu of sushi and sashimi, is a new concept from the owners of Sushi Axiom, which has three locations in North Texas. Existing Sushi Axiom restaurants are in Fort Worth, Burleson, and on Henderson Avenue in East Dallas.

“We’re pleased to welcome such a well established restaurant operator as the newest commercial tenant to ilume,” said Luke Crosland, chairman and CEO of The Crosland Group. “Fin Sushi is another step in our commitment to bringing the finest that Dallas has to offer to the heart of the Oak Lawn community.”

—  John Wright

Get wet at the ilume this Memorial Day weekend

It might not say so on the solar calendar, but we all know Memorial Day weekend is the unofficially official start of summer — and that means bathing suit season. Hey, I’ve been eating like crazy but  still know how to suck in my gut for the pool, and the ilume is amping up the pressure this weekend. The very gay development on Cedar Springs is hosting its first-ever Wet Party on Sunday from noon to 7. Tammie Brown from RuPaul’s Drag Race will emcee the event, then later in the evening she’ll be at the Rose Room for a show. There’s a $10 cover that benefits the AIDS LifeWalk Purple Team and ilume’s DragOns softball team. You must be 21 to attend.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ilume plans expansion at site of old Douglas Park, 4242 Cedar Springs apartments

Ilume has acquired the large vacant lot across Cedar Springs to the north and west, which once was home to the Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs apartment complexes. According to the press release that I’ve posted after the jump, ilume developer the Crosland Group plans a 240-unit expansion on the 3.88 acres. We’ll have more in Friday’s Voice.

—  John Wright

Carlos Saenz at ilume Friday night

I went to check out Carlos Saenz’s CD release party in the Great Room at the ilume Friday night and it was quite the scene. A hefty crowd turned out for the Voice of Pride top 10 finalist as he celebrated the release of his single, “Elaborate Lives.” It didn’t hurt that Bar 10 was there doling out the free drinks.

His vocals sounded good but the sound wavered off a bit by the end. The mike issue went unnoticed however, and he turned in a decent gig with covers of Erasure, The Doors and even Journey by way of Glee. Backup singers included other VOP finalists Mel Arizpe, Juliana Jeffrey and Robert Olivas. There was even an “awww” moment when he introduced his family who had come up from Brownsville to see his show.

Looking at this now, it’s a whole lot darker than I figured on. D’oh! But you should get the idea of the show.

—  Rich Lopez

The Petropolitan and ilume team up; Eatzi's expands with second location

ilume has been blooming with the openings of Red Mango, Beyond the Box and Dish. Now they got resident pets in sight. According to ilume’s Facebook, they announced today that they are teaming up with The Petropolitan (you know, the guys who sponsor our Pet of the Week) to offer pet services starting right now. So if Fido is starting to look a little scraggly, the Purr and Fur Lounge is now open to snip and groom him back to pedigreed perfection.

In other business news, NBC 5 reported last night that Eatzi’s is opening a second location in February in the Lovers Lane/Tollway area. After closing up many of their other shops a few years back, it sounds like the food market is embracing the idea of expansion again. But really, we dig how reporter Ellen Goldberg says “Eatzi’s on Oak Lawn in Dallas has a cult-like following.”

—  Rich Lopez