New restaurants are opening, a lot remains vacant, one bar may be forced to close and another may not lose its lease



DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Expect an empty field, at least two new restaurants and maybe a new bar along Cedar Springs Road in 2016.

Kroger may face some stiff competition when a new Central Market opens a few blocks away, but even though some of the land has been cleared, a timeline for the new store is still in question.

An empty field, where the first gay-owned business on Cedar Springs Road once stood, remains fenced. Warwick Melrose Hotel bought the land several years ago when the owners of The Bronx, a restaurant that opened in the 1975, retired.

The building that once housed The Bronx was razed to accommodate plans to build a pool and other gym facilities for the hotel, as well as a large ballroom. Various plans developed over the last couple of years, that originally included a parking garage, are on hold, according to a source at the hotel who asked not to be identified.

Originally, the hold up on developing the property was the sale of liquor. Only the footprint that included the building that housed The Bronx was wet. The rest of the property that’s been cleared was dry.

Rumors that adjacent buildings housing Thai Lotus, Liquid Zoo and Cafe Brazil were also sold to The Melrose Hotel are unfounded, according to the source.

“They haven’t done anything with the other property,” he said.

So for the foreseeable part of 2016, Cedar Springs Road will continue to have a fenced lot welcoming visitors to the gayborhood, with no sign of construction.

Rumors that the building on the corner of Reagan Street and Cedar Springs Road that was home to the Black-eyed Pea would be torn down to build a parking lot are unfounded.

Restaurateur Gene Street opened The Black-eyed Pea in 1975 and sold it to Phoenix Restaurant Group 10 years later. Over the years, the restaurant chain that started on Cedar Springs Road was sold several times. At one point it was owned by Denny’s. The current owner is Restaurants Acquisition I of Arlington, which owns 15 Black-eyed Peas and Dixie House, also created by Street, in Lakewood Village Shopping Center. The company declared bankruptcy last fall.

When Street sold the restaurant, he retained ownership of the building. After losing his leases on two other Oak Lawn restaurants last year — Good Eats and Snookies — he decided not to renew the Black-eyed Pea lease to give himself room to open Street’s Fine Chicken this spring. The menu will include the original Black-eyed Pea chicken-fried steak as well as the hot rolls originally served at the restaurant.

Zephyr is another new addition to the Cedar Springs street scene and should be open in the next few weeks. Rain has prevented workers from installing the new awning that will make the outdoor patio usable year round.

The new restaurant is inspired by European cafes, according to co-owner Josh Friedman, who is developing the location with Thairrific owner Danny Sikora.

The former Zini’s location has been completely rebuilt with new kitchen facilities and little left from the former tenant. Everything from light fixtures to inlaid flooring is new.

Prepared meals will be available for take out or delivery, but customers will be welcome to sit and linger. Free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the restaurant, including on the patio.

“I want to bring back when people walked up and down the street and stopped and sat for awhile,” Friedman said.

In addition to interesting fixtures that include tin ceiling tiles used on one of the counters, marble tables, planters, pews and tables from an East Texas antique barn and other touches that have warmed this space as it’s never been before, Friedman said he spent $10,000 on high-end security cameras that can clearly see as far as the library on Cedar Springs Road and more than a block down Throckmorton Street.

Another mainstay — La Madeleine — off Cedar Springs Road but in Oak Lawn is slated to go.

The block along Lemmon Avenue from Reagan to Throckmorton will become a new Central Market with an urban design — two floors for shopping and underground parking.

Half the block has been demolished already. Condos facing Bowser Street were torn down this week. The Taco Bueno is gone.

The building housing La Madeleine has been sold, but no eviction notice has been given to the restaurant, which has occupied the space for close to 30 years. A spokesperson at La Madeleine’s corporate office in Dallas said it’s not going anywhere. Under its lease, it must be given six months notice to evacuate the premises.

The original La Madeleine was on Mockingbird Lane near Southern Methodist University. The Lemmon Avenue location was one of the next locations for the French restaurant. There are now 21 locations in Dallas, 30 others in Texas and others in New Orleans, Tulsa, Orlando and Washington, D.C.

Havana’s liquor license has been suspended and the nightclub remains closed. Owners are appealing to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If successful in their appeal, the owners are planning to reopen.

After a bouncer was stabbed at The Brick, a new company has been hired for that bar to improve security there. In addition to the attack at the bar, two of the Oak Lawn attacks happened within a block of the Tollway bridge.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 8, 2016.