Owner sets date for Hideaway reopening

The view of the Hideaway from Dallas Voice offices.

I spoke with Hideaway owner Lonzie Hershner earlier this week to get the latest update on the club’s status. The Hershner family, which also owns the Tin Room and the Drama Room, bought the Hideaway after the bar closed in 2009 after more than 25 years. Lonzie Hershner’s brother, Marty, passed away in 2010.

From Dallas Voice’s offices, we can look to see that construction at the Hideaway — 4144 Buena Vista St. —  has really ramped up over the last couple of weeks, and Hershner confirms that the end of the tunnel is in sight.

“We finally got all the permits and all wheels are turning now,” he said. “We’ll be actually open for business in three weeks.”

This was a pleasant shock to hear. As neighbors to the club, construction seemed to slow down toward the end of 2011, but then picked up in January. With both interior and exterior upgrades, the club is finally taking its shape again after being gutted.

“The building had to be broken down to the frame and we had to start from scratch. The majority of the flooring had to be replaced, support beams, extra touches. This was a lot more work than we thought it was gonna be,” Hershner said.

—  Rich Lopez

Buli’s switch to bar still stalled

Scott Whittall

We spoke today with Scott Whittall, co-owner of Buli Cafe on Cedar Springs. A while back we reported that Whittall planned to knock down the wall between the coffee shop and the old Zen Salon, and open a piano bar called Shakers. But he says those plans have hit a major snag, and Buli remains open as a coffee shop.

Whittall said the the biggest obstacle to the expansion is city parking requirements. Buli is currently “grandfathered” with a parking requirement of one space for every 200 square feet. However, if they knock down the wall and open a restaurant/bar, the requirement will become one parking space for every 100 square feet.

“This is a hurdle I don’t think we can get over, the parking thing,” Whittall said. “That means we would need 32 spaces, which is almost impossible.” Buli currently has only eight spaces.

Whittall said he hasn’t given up entirely on the plan, but he expressed frustration with the city, which would also require him to combine electric meters at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000.

“I’m trying to figure out how this benefits the city,” he said. “These things are just silly.”

Whittall said if he can’t figure out a way to get around the requirements, he may open a restaurant/bar that’s limited to the space currently occupied by Buli. But he said everything is still up in the air.

“I’m not going to say it’s not going to happen yet, because I have to always hold that glimmer of hope,” Whittall said of the expansion. “If it can be done, we’ll do it.”

—  John Wright

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

 

In this week’s episode we talked about continuing changes on the Cedar Springs strip, including the Melrose Hotel’s plans for The Bronx Cafe property; the sale of the ilume building; the remodeling project at JR’s; the apparent snags in the plan for Buli Cafe to become Shakers piano bar; the controversy over Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer; and much more.

—  John Wright

The Coffee Lab aims to fill void on Cedar Springs

With Buli converting to a piano bar, the strip was going to be minus a coffee shop where people could convene with their laptops and spend hours nursing a latte. But I snapped this quick pic today while driving that way to find The Coffee Lab slated for the old Obscurities place next to Hungdinger. According to co-owner Neil Delaney, we should be enjoying their fine coffee drinks pretty soon.

If all goes according to plan, Delaney said, the shop could open on its target date of May 1 for the new “third wave” coffee house. Third wave has something to do with the all the coffee in the shop is no more than two weeks out of being roasted. The coffee comes from Counter Culture out of North Carolina. Pretty much after that shelf life, the coffee is out of there. Otherwise, Delaney is intent on providing the freshest coffee (that is also fair trade and organically certified) possible to customers.

“Every time we make a drink, the coffee will be ground right before it’s made,” Delaney said.

Delaney wasn’t specifically looking in the area for his new upstart company, but as he discovered Buli’s metamorphosis, his real estate agent suggested the spot. Delaney saw the timing as pure luck and got a lock on the spot. The signs went up Tuesday.

Delaney and his business partner Darin Danford are aware also of their location (they’re straight) and hope the Lab will fit right in to the heart of the gayborhood.

“We’re so excited about being a part of the community and we want to support it as well,” he said. “We know down there, a business either stays open two years or 20 years.”

They are shooting for the latter.

The Coffee Lab is currently hiring. Visit their website for details.

—  Rich Lopez

From coffee to martinis: Buli gets a makeover

Scott Whittall

Cafe owner hopes change to Shakers piano bar brings more people back to Cedar Springs

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Scott Whittall hoped to have his new piano bar Shakers open on Cedar Springs Road by February, but new Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules kicked in recently and have delayed the process.

Now, before a license application process begins, a sign announcing the application must be posted for 60 days.

That sign is now posted in the front window of Buli, which will become Shakers. Whittall said he is hoping for a May opening.

The name Buli will be retired, Whittall said. The new name of the larger space will be Shakers. Whittall said it will be a piano bar, but food will be served, too.

Once the 60-day waiting period ends, the application process begins. Previously, the sign didn’t have to be posted until the process began.

Further delays could result from the flood of new applications TABC has received as a result of the wet/dry election in Dallas County in November. More than 50 locations have already applied for licenses in Oak Cliff. Only a few have been approved so far.

Whittall and his partner, Alan Goode, have already signed a lease on the property next to Buli that was formerly occupied by Zen Clips. The two spaces have been listed as one by the city since the early 1990s when Oak Lawn Flower Mart occupied both.

Whittall hopes that will speed the permitting process for renovations.

Whittall said business on Cedar Springs was up and down. He hoped that Shakers would attract a larger crowd.

Hours of operation haven’t been decided, Whittall said, but the bar would remain open until 2 a.m. Food would be a part of the mix, he said, but sandwiches served in lunch boxes would probably go away.

“We want to bring it up a level,” he said.

The Zen Clips space gives the new business a back entrance opening to the parking lots. And while interior plans are not finalized, Whittall said he expected the bar to be where the serving counter now stands and the stage will be in the new space. The patio will be extended and partially enclosed.

While owners are wading through the approval process for a liquor license, Buli will remain open, serving food and coffee.

The piano bar format has been a staple on Cedar Springs for years. Alexandre’s was the last with a piano. Before that,  Michaels, which was in the building now occupied by Woody’s, was a popular piano bar.

Pekers on Oak Lawn Avenue has live entertainment with Gary Poe performing at the piano every Friday night.

Bill’s Hideaway on Buena Vista Avenue closed in 2009. Lonzie Hershner, who operates the Tin Room and Drama Room, has leased the space and is doing extensive renovations.

He said that he is just beginning the liquor and dance hall application process.

Hershner said he plans to open the patio during the day serving smoothies with water for pets hoping to attract people coming off the Katy Trail. His vision is for the front house to be a piano-jazz bar.

Hershner said the bar will be named Marty’s Hideaway in memory of his brother, who opened the other two bars and died suddenly last year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Proprietor of Tin Room, Drama Room says he hopes to reopen Bill’s Hideaway in March

The proprietor of the Tin Room and the Drama Room says he’s signed a lease on the building that housed Bill’s Hideaway and hopes to reopen the legendary gay piano bar by the end of March.

The Hideaway, on Buena Vista Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, has been sitting vacant since mid-2009, when it shut down after 26 years.

Lonzie Hershner, who took over management of the Tin Room and the Drama Room after his brother Marty died last year, said he signed a lease on the Hideaway building last month.

Lonzie Hershner said he plans to call the new bar Marty’s Hideaway as a tribute to his brother. Crews have already gutted the building and begun landscaping the trademark patio, he said.

“We’re going to start actual construction on it in two weeks,” Hershner said. “We’re fixin’ to completely restore it. It’s taken forever and a day, but we finally got the lease signed on it. … I want to get it back to what it used to be, because everybody loved it.”

—  John Wright