JCPenney returns to Dallas retail

It has been an irony on the level of the Big Tobacco office building being smoke-free or the beef industry lobbying group having vegetarian options on its cafeteria menu. JCPenney, once the ruler of catalogue sales and a retail captain, is based in North Texas but has not had a Dallas store since the one in NorthPark Center closed in the late 1990s.

Well, it’s back. And with a lot of style.

The new store, which officially opened at Skillman Road and Northwest Highway last weekend, is part of a huge new complex that includes a gigantic Wal-Mart that probably warrants its own congressman. The JCP store isn’t as big, but it is fairly fancy.

JCP has always been a mid-range seller that doesn’t compete with fellow Dallas-based icon Neiman Marcus but brags that is does offer style for less. (It’s VP in charge of design, Geoffrey Henning, is a longtime supporter and designer for DIFFA.) The new store — clean and fresh as a newly minted penny — lives up to the promise.

JCP staffers brag that the store is now the exclusive retailer for what they say is the most recognized name in women’s fashion, Liz Claiborne, though the designs have been updated from the 1970s-era when the brand became famous. Credit uber-gay Isaac Mizrahi, its comparatively new creative director, with turning things around. There are a number of exclusive deals and in-house labels at JCP, including a juniors line from the Olsen Twins, but the new venue is most excited about its MNG by Mango store-within-a-store, which does fast fashions for women. Another innovation: An in-house salon where you can get your hair cut or an entire makeover if you need it, then continue on with your bargain shopping.

The men’s department is smaller than the women’s, but the J. Ferrar line of clothes, pictured, is worth a look, and if you’re a fragrance junkie, an in-store Sephora shop.

For shopaholics like me, it’s always fun to browse at a new store, not only to see what’s new (lots of fall fashions are already out, despite the 99-degree temperatures this week) but also to take advantage of the bargains and enjoy the enthusiasm of a fresh staff in a beautiful space. And JCPenney doesn’t scrimp on the sales, coupons and discounts. It’s a great place to check out something new and save money doing it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes

Addison casts a ‘Queer Eye’ on food (again); Axiom spins for charity

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Ted-Allen-bottle-shot
DRINK UP | Ted Allen returns to Taste of Addison to deliver a presentation on wine.

With summer basically here (on the thermometer if not the calendar), restaurants and bars are revamping their menus. At Fearing’s, that means complimentary two-bite mini tacos and three new cocktails, including a sangria and gin drink, for midweek (Wednesday and Thursday) happy hour from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  inside at the Rattlesnake Bar or al fresco at the Live Oak Bar.

Scott Gottlich and J Chastain have launched a new menu at their Second Floor restaurant inside the Galleria. Among the entrees are now a croque madame pizza, day boat scallops and a Meyer lemon meringue cake. Gottlich’s other restaurant, the fabulous Bijoux at the Inwood Village, will present a showcase of classic dishes during May and June. From May 17–20, then June 17–18, you can enjoy a five-course meal with time-honored dishes like oysters Rockefeller and beef Wellington. Cost is $68 ($95 with wine pairing).

Fin Sushi — now officially Axiom Sushi — holds the “Spin 4 a Cause” event  twice monthly on Wednesdays. Each time, the restaurant will choose a local celebrity to serve as guest DJ, who selects a non-profit of his or her choice as beneficiary. Money raised from 6 to 8 p.m. directly benefits that charity.

Blouin_Dessert_4ed
IS THAT REALLY EDIBLE? | You bet your last taste bud you can feast on the raspberry and vanilla cheesecake ‘surprise’ from The Mansion’s new pastry chef, Nicolas Blouin.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek has named Nicolas Blouin as its new pastry chef, and just a quick look at some of his architectural creations, pictured, will set your mouth watering.

Tiff’s Treats, which could single-handedly undo all my exercise gains, has opened its third Dallas location, at Hillcrest and Northwest Highway. To celebrate, on May 14 it will sell boxes of fresh-made (and still warm!) cookies and brownies, proceeds of which will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

When we think of pizza meccas, Grapevine doesn’t pop quickly to mind, but that changes for a bit this weekend. The burb’s Main Street Days festival in its historic downtown celebrates pizza for three days putting it on a most deserving pedestal. Napoli’s, Farina’s Winery and Café and Gepetto’s Pizza are just some of the restaurants making an appearance. We hear the latter’s medium pizza is a hefty five pounds. While pepperoni is the stuff dreams are made of, think a step up with some of the offerings from Farina’s Scorcher pizza with chicken and jalapenos to Napoli’s s’mores pizza.

Speaking of, the Uptown pizzeria Coal Vines has opened a branch at The Shops at Legacy. That joins the latest branch of Deep Ellum’s Twisted Root Burger Co. which also opened there, making The Shops — with a Kent Rathbun restaurant (Jasper’s), an Angelika Film Center and other shops — is really becoming the Uptown of Plano.

Addison’s annual Taste of Addison food extravaganza starts Friday, May 20 and runs through May 22, not only with samplings from dozens of restaurants, but also music from Third Eye Blind and others. Queer Eye food expert Ted Allen and Robert Mondavi spokesperson returns to give a wine seminar for eager palates. Learn more at AddisonTexas.net.

Dickey’s Pit Barbecue has made the first permanent change to its menu in 50 years. The spicy cheddar sausage, a special item in recent months, will now be a fixture on the menu.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Vegetarian Times has nominated Dallas’ Hail Merry for a Foodie Award, recognizing its raw-vegan blond macaroons. You can vote for it at
VegetarianTimes.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Black Pride: Pride by the Lake at Bachman

Expect more to this than just food

Bachman Lake

Black Pride weekend begins to wrap up with this fourth annual event. Pride by the Lake AKA the Him4Him and Her4Her picnic not only serves up the food, but it also might be the only time you’ll see a drag show outdoors at a lake. The Legends of Dallas will give a mini-drag show. Then get ready to battle with the j-setting competition, play some games and just chill out.

DEETS: Bachman Lake, 3500 Northwest Highway. 1 – 5 p.m. Free. DFWPridemovement.org or DallasSouthernPride.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Drawing Dallas

Eccentric classical music lover John Cobb never leaves home without his trusty radio

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator mark@markdrawsfunny.com

John Cobb

Easy listener

Name: John Cobb

Occupation: Telemarketer

Spotted at: Half Price Books on Northwest Highway

Have radio, will travel: While shopping, Cobb was listening to WRR on  his portable radio. Originally from New York City, John sings classical music (loves Verdi operas) and is also a landscape photographer. He’s a voracious reader of biographies and history books.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas