Applause, cheers and high-fives all around for the restaurants that opened and thrived in Fort Worth this year. As we pat their backs, let’s not forget those who are no longer with us.
A toast to some of the restaurants that tried but fell in ’13:
Bayou Jack’s Cajun Grill: Overshadowed by Tex Mex goliath Chuy’s, the shortly lived Cajun spot in So7 – an offshoot of a Roanoke location – served good clam chowder and po’ boys. The Roanoke store remains open.
Billy Miner’s Saloon: The longtime downtown burger joint resurfaced, briefly, on the north side, in a much smaller space with a different owner and subpar food; Fort Worth didn’t fall for it.
Brownstone: You had to hand it to Brownstone: After Top Chef contestant Casey Thompson left her farm-to-table restaurant, an anchor of the then-burgeoning West 7th area, the restaurant aloofly marched on, as if she were a pawn, not the queen. Shifting toward a bar menu and club atmosphere, Brownstone stayed open, outlasting expectations. But a restaurant of Brownstone’s size and rent can’t survive on martini sales and Facebook photos of partying patrons forever; it closed in early November.
The Flying Carpet Café: Flying Carpet certainly had a niche of its own: Turkish food, hookah lounge, Oriental rug shop. Apparently, the niche was too small.
Iron Spurs Bar & Grill: The latest restaurant to rise and quickly fall in the old Williams Ranch House space on Jacksboro Highway. When will we ever learn: It’s already been scooped up and reopened as The Jax Ranch House.
Italian Inn: Historic underground Italian restaurant closed a mere five years shy of its 50th birthday. Some of the singing servers moved a few blocks west to Edelweiss German Restaurant. But wonder what happened to the walls, signed and carved by 45 years’ worth of patrons?
Love Shack: Fort Worth chef Tim Love closed two of the three locations of his Love Shack burger mini-chain. He held onto the Denton location, reopening it as Queenie’s Steakhouse. He let go of the Bluebonnet Circle spot; it’s now a Fred’s. The Stockyards outpost remains, thankfully.
Mad Dog BBQ: More barbecue joints came rather than went this year. In a ramshackle building in River Oaks, Mad Dog’s did both, shuttering within months of opening. Its smoky, tender brisket is worth lamenting.
Patrizio: West 7th lost Brownstone, but a bigger blow was the closing of Patrizio, an Italian chain but a good one, with above-average food at affordable prices. Locations in Dallas and Southlake remain open.
Pop’s Burgers & Grill: After winning DFW.com’s 2011 Burger Battle, Pop’s owner Russell House moved his tiny Benbrook burger joint to a much bigger – but less visible – space on Trail Lake Drive. Business didn’t boom, forcing House to close this spring. After initially saying he’d return in another spot, House recently announced on Facebook he’s not going to reopen Pop’s, afterall.
Ray’s Prime Steak & Seafood: Opened in 2010 by longtime restaurateur Raif “Ray” Jumeri, Ray’s was a nice, attractive steakhouse with a lively bar, good dover sole and plenty of west-side people-watching. Following a divorce, Jumeri parted ways with the restaurant; it closed a few weeks ago. Jumeri worked briefly at nearby Portofino Italian Grill, which also closed this year.
Ryan’s Fine Grocer & Deli: In January, the Near Southside finally got a neighborhood deli and market, courtesy of sibling owners Brittany and Hunter Ryan. Prices may have been too high; six months later, it closed. Famed Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso will open its first Fort Worth location there in early ’14.
Sushi Yoko: Way ahead of the sushi trend, this Camp Bowie restaurant opened in 2007 and thrived until new owners took over. Original owners Danny and Shu Liu, as well as chef Jesus Garcia, are now at Little Lilly Sushi, one of the city’s best Japanese restaurants.
Two Brothers Bistro: Hated to see brothers Gus and Peter Katzianis close their second restaurant, a quaint Greek spot in the vein of their previous restaurant, Parthenon. Hope to see them again.
Dallas saw its fair share of prominent closings. A handful:
Primo’s closed abruptly Dec. 20, after 28 years on McKinney Avenue. It was well-known as a late-night hangout for chefs, including Dean Fearing.
Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill: The original location of the sports bar in Uptown closed in June after 13 years. “We’re heartbroken to leave our original Uptown location, but hope to be back in Dallas in 2014. In the mean time, stop by and see us in Fort Worth and Lewisville!” We love the wings at Frankie’s, so we’re hoping that the light traffic at its Cowtown outpost doesn’t mean it’ll follow suit.
Jack’s Southern Comfort Food on Greenville, from restaurateur Scott Jones (Cowtown Diner, Screen Door), only made it 10 months. There were parking and landlord issues; but Jack’s is reportedly aiming to reopen in another location.
Sometimes, a restaurant group can overreach. In the past few years, Restaurants America has launched a barrage of new DFW eateries, including Prime Bar and Park Tavern. Those are still here, but we bid farewell to a trio of departed ones: Boca Chica, Townhouse Kitchen and Mockingbird Taproom – the latter two of which were shuttered for not paying their rent.
Malcolm Mayhew, Teresa Gubbins, special to DFW.com, and Heather Svokos, DFW.com