With the duration of the coronavirus stretching now well into April and possibly beyond, Dallas restaurants are undergoing a shift: Some who tried to hang on are closing their doors, but others have caught a second wind and are mounting comebacks.
For every restaurant the details are different, but the story is the same: Trying to find stable footing during unstable times.
The shift to take-out has been a challenge for many restaurants, worsened by diners’ initial instinct to hunker down and stay home.
But as the virus lingers, some restaurants are making it work. Chipotle is one big success story: Its digital sales doubled in March. CEO Brian Niccol said that he thinks diners are growing tired of cooking. People are also getting their stimulus checks. A new normal is setting in.
Rise No. 1
The chain noted for its souffles has risen again, although for now, without the souffles. They’re back with curbside take-out featuring a new menu of entree type dishes such as lemon-pepper salmon with shrimp & grits; chicken paillard with pasta alfredo Cajen penne; filet mignon with fingerling potatoes and bernaise; and ahi tuna. Salads and sandwiches include Nicoise, a brie & cornichon baguette, and a Parisian sandwich on a baguette with ham, Gruyere, and cornichons.
No soufflés are being offered to-go, but they’re selling coffee & tea in one-pound bags, plus baguettes and butter for $1.25. They’re also selling bottles of wine for $24-$32.
The Nook in Light Farms
Light Farms is a gated community in Prosper; this restaurant has been in the works for a while, and finally opened on March 31 with curbside pickup. Owners are Anthony Morel and Noah Partridge, a former beverage director at Crudo Wood Fired Tavern in Frisco. The menu includes flatbreads, salads, mac & cheese, and an Impossible burger. They’re open 11 am–8 pm daily.
Two new locations of Chipotle are in the works for the Dallas area. One just opened in DeSoto and another is coming to Farmers Branch. Due to the coronavirus, the new restaurants will be open for takeout, mobile pick-up, and delivery only. The Desoto restaurant is at 1001 North Interstate 35E Service Rd., Suite 116A. The Farmers Branch restaurant is at 2427 Valley View Ln. They’ll observe normal hours of operation: 10:45 am-10 pm daily. Additionally, Chipotle is offering free delivery on orders of $10+ throughout April via the Chipotle app for Apple or Android, or order online at Chipotle.com.
The gourmet-quality bakery with celebrity roots (it’s owned by journalist/model Elizabeth Chambers, married to actor Armie Hammer) has reopened their Dallas location. It should be noted that this is not a full reopening: It’s carry out and pick-up in store and curbside at this time. But sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies, and cakes are back. Huzzah. For the re-opening, they’ve adjusted the menu. It has a dozen signature sandwiches including California turkey, chicken salad, and pimento cheese, plus a whole pantry section that includes bread, eggs, butter (Plugra of course), flour, sugar, sliced turkey by the pound, and that COVID favorite, toilet paper.
This follows a temporary closure of both of their Dallas location at Highland Park Village, and their original in San Antonio. But they were seeing a demand, so they deep-cleaned, sanitized, strategized, and put safety measures into place, including limiting the numer of people in the bakery. They recommend you place orders in advance by calling in or emailing email@example.com. There will be designated tables outside with pickup orders. (They are also available via third party delivery apps.)
The Texas juice pioneer was among the few that received a Paycheck Protection Loan and is reopening five stories in the next few weeks including their Sylvan Thirty location in Dallas. The juice is back. They make their smoothies with raw cold-pressed juice and plant-based milks. Best-sellers include the Percolator with almond milk, banana, cold brew coffee, cacao, and cinnamon. That sounds good. They offer bowls, as well. They plan to reopen more locations and are actively hiring at locations in Dallas, Austin, and Houston; apply at www.juiceland.com.
La Popular Tamale House
After 35 years, this East Dallas restaurant and take-out spot known for its amazing tamales is taking an unplanned break. Owner Jesse Moreno says they stayed open to keep their staff employed but saw only limited sales. They applied for a PPP loan — and seemingly no one would be a more appropriate recipient — but Moreno says the funds were dried up before their application was even processed.
They’ll be open this week Thursday-Sunday 7 am-2 pm, with a virtual Tamale Making Class they’re hosting on Thursday April 23.
They’ve also create a GoFund Me for their staff, to ensure that they are taken care of during these uncertain times. This is the same La Popular that has donated holiday meals to Dallas’ animal shelter, and who stays open on Christmas Day so you can get your holiday tamales.
Make one last order for tamales by calling 214-824-7617.
Deep Ellum bar-restaurant initially tried to weather COVID-19 by limiting its hours to Friday-Sunday, but last weekend, they threw in the towel. On their final night, they offered free meals — chicken paprikas, cheese spatzle, and tacos — to all first responders, medical personnel, service industry, grocery staff, and any other front line workers.
“We look forward to seeing & serving all of our friends (hopefully) soon when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, we’ll be working on staying creative, cooking up some new things & staying happy and healthy. See ya soon!” they said.
The local sandwich and bakery chain tried the take-out model for a month, but in mid-April, they gave it up and are now temporarily closed “due to everything going on with COVID-19.” Bread Winners pretty much invented brunch in Dallas, but brunch is one thing that’s hard to do at home.
Joe the Baker
Joe the Baker has temporarily suspending operations at Coppell Farmer’s Market and at Royal Blue Grocery. Their custom cakes, macarons, breads, and other treats are still available for Porch Pickup one mile from Old Town Coppell. They’re diligent about keeping their online inventory updated, and require a 72-hour lead time for all baked good orders. They’ll continue to offer pantry staples including flour, sugar, and the hard-to-find instant yeast, and meanwhile are staying busy filming episodes of “Quarantine Cooking with Joe the Baker” on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 pm, which you can watch on Facebook Live or catch past episodes on their website.