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The Wynne history: A Fish, A Moth, a Goat and more

Posted 9:38am on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014

Shannon Wynne has been a part of the DFW nightlife/restaurant scene since 1980, and his son Sam is also involved in the business. Here’s a look at some key Wynne establishments.

The 8.0 (now closed): When Wynne’s favorite Dallas watering hole, the Stoneleigh P., burned down, Wynne decided to open a “gin joint” with a couple of partners in Dallas’ Quadrangle, a development north of downtown Dallas. The club opened in 1980 and proved instantly popular, but financial problems led to its closing in 1985. Wynne reopened it four years later, then added a Houston location in 1991 and a Fort Worth location in 1994 in Sundance Square. The Fort Worth spot, with its eclectic menu and large patio, proved popular, and is seen as one of the keys to downtown Fort Worth’s development.

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium: Wynne opened a string of clubs in the early ’80s in the wake of the 8.0’s early success, but the place with real staying power opened in 1995 in downtown Fort Worth. Noting that some Cowtown residents feared the 8.0 might be too pretentious, he opened the more down-to-earth pub the Flying Saucer in the historic Land Title Building in 1995. Known for its vast selection of beers and for the plates on the walls honoring customers who made it through 200 beers on the menu, the Saucer was a quick success and led to more Saucers, which are now in 16 cities in six states. Five months after Wynne shut down the Fort Worth 8.0 in February 2012, the Saucer moved into the larger space. 111 E. Third St., Fort Worth, 817-336-7470; www.beerknurd.com.

The Flying Fish: Wynne’s most no-frills restaurant is a fast-casual seafood joint inspired, according to its website, by “ love for the many East Texas fish joints available on area lakes, especially Caddo Lake.” The order-at-the-counter menu is what you might expect: catfish, crawfish, shrimp, oysters, trout, tilapia, hushpuppies, etc. Wynne is known for his eye for design, and this is his most kitschy spot, with fishing photos lining the walls — except for the walls that are lined with customer-donated Big Mouth Billy Basses. The regional chain has eight locations in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas; the Fort Worth one opened in 2006 and an Arlington location opened in 2011. Check those fishing photos — you might see some familiar names and faces. 2913 Montgomery St., Fort Worth, 817-989-2277; 300 E. Abram St., No. 100, Arlington, 817-303-3335. http://www.flyingfishinthe.net

Meddlesome Moth: With Flying Saucers and Flying Fish in his repertoire, Wynne went on to other flying objects, a theme that now runs (or flies) through the names of most of his restaurants. That includes this west-Dallas joint, a gastropub with a more upscale menu than the Saucer (check out the varieties of mussels), a gleaming tap wall for craft beers and a striking stained-glass Elvis/Chuck Berry/Jerry Lee Lewis triptych that Wynne took from an old Hard Rock Cafe. 1621 Oak Lawn Ave. at Hi Line Drive, Dallas; 214-628-7900, http://www.mothinthe.net.

Rodeo Goat Ice House: Wynne, his son Sam and Wynne’s longtime business partners Keith Schlabs and Larry Richardson originally intended to focus on beer and sell tacos at this unassuming spot in Fort Worth’s West 7th district, but so many taco joints were opening, and they decided to go with burgers instead. Not just any burgers, though — chef Keith Grober’s menu, developed with Shannon Wynne’s prodding, might be the most ambitious burger lineup in DFW, with such items as the Ravi Shankar (toppings include red curry, coriander chutney … and peanut butter) and the Sugar Burger (which features candied bacon and grilled peaches). Those are the extremes, but none of the burgers are ordinary, and the joint won DFW.com’s 2013 Battle of the Burgers — even though Rodeo Goat was less than a year old at the time. Oh, yeah, it also offers about 80 beers. 2836 Bledsoe St. at Currie Street, Fort Worth, 817-877-4628; www.rodeogoat.com.

Lark on the Park: Perhaps Wynne’s most elegant restaurant, Lark features a dinner menu that’s another step up the scale from Meddlesome Moth. The food has been justifiably praised — The Dallas Morning News and D Magazine both put it on their best new restaurants lists for 2013 — and the setting, across from the lively Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas, is a bonus. But the park and skyline views don’t compete with the spacious interior, which features a continually changing selection of chalk art done by local artists. Wynne’s eye for design found its best vision at this place. 2015 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas. 214-855-5275. larkonthepark.com.

Bird Cafe: Opened just before Christmas 2013 in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square Plaza, Wynne’s latest venture features a menu very much like Meddlesome Moth’s, with an emphasis on shared plates at dinner. The restaurant, in the Land Title Building that used to house the Flying Saucer, stays true to its bird theme with a selection of paintings by the late Fort Worth nature artists Stuart and Scott Gentling. Between this and Lark, Wynne has restaurants in some of the coolest urban spaces in both Fort Worth and Dallas. 155 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth; 817-332-2473, birdinthe.net

BrainDead Brewing: Sam Wynne and a couple of partners are developing this Deep Ellum spot, set to open this year, separate from Sam’s dad, Shannon. Sam Wynne says that more than 50 recipes are in the works for the pub; he’s reluctant to give an opening date, but we do know that it will be at 2625 Main St., Dallas. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com /braindeadbrew. Twitter: @BrainDeadBrew.

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