Biscuits, waffles and sushi: More on what’s coming to Crockett Street Food Hall

Grady Spears, shown in 2015 at his Stockyards chicken-fried-steak restaurant, Horsehoe Hill, plans to have a restaurant at Crockett Street Food Hall with a chicken-and-biscuit theme.
Grady Spears, shown in 2015 at his Stockyards chicken-fried-steak restaurant, Horsehoe Hill, plans to have a restaurant at Crockett Street Food Hall with a chicken-and-biscuit theme. Star-Telegram archives

When plans were announced for Crockett Street Food Hall in October, one big DFW chef name was attached: “Top Chef” alum John Tesar, whose Knife Burger is scheduled to have a stall in the dining hall.

But that’s a Dallas name. Now the Fort Worth names are starting to come out.

A big one is Grady Spears, the Fort Worth native chef known for his Stockyards chicken-fried-steak restaurant Horsehoe Hill, as well as a background that includes Reata and co-founding Dutch’s Legendary Hamburgers.

He will be one of the hall’s anchor tenants with a new concept called Graze, because “it will be simple, rural food you can eat all day long,” he says.

“Our main focus will be on chicken and biscuits — both sweet and savory styles,” Spears says. “My plan is for it to be comfort food that everybody understands. We will offer other things as well, but expect chicken and biscuits to be the backbone of the menu.”

Just like at Horseshoe Hill, which serves up some of the best chicken-fried steak anywhere, six different ways, the variety of chicken and biscuits will be creative and varied. Biscuits and jam have been a staple menu item at Horseshoe Hill from day one, and a fan-favorite since the restaurant began serving breakfast this year, so Spears already has that part of the equation perfected.

Like Knife Burger, Graze also will serve a selection of beer and beverages out of its stand-alone space. “This was a no-brainer for us,” Spears says. “The folks at [Food Hall parent company] Hospitality Alliance are pros and I really appreciate the fact there are no egos involved. It just made sense,” Spears says.

The hall, now under construction on the northwest corner of Crockett Street and Norwood Street, will be a 16,000-square-foot dining destination when it opens. Kevin Lillis, CEO of Hospitality Alliance, says the food hall is aiming for a May debut.

Hospitality Alliance focuses primarily on boutique hotels and restaurant concepts — you know … the hospitality industry. It has high-profile projects in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but the Crockett Row Food Hall will be the company’s first installment in North Texas.

When first announced, it only had two key tenants nailed down: Tesar’s Knife Burger, which will be the first location to provide a full bar, and The Dapper Doughnut, a St, Louis-based chain known for mini-doughnut creations served hot from the fryer (Knife Burger already has dining-hall cred: There’s a location in Plano’s new and very popular Legacy Hall).

Since then, some exciting new operators have signed on to larger spaces in the food hall, which will be home to 12 operators instead of the originally announced 14, Lillis says.

Among them are more Fort Worth names: Local favorites Jarry and Mary Ho will have a sushi bar in the hall, and their Tokyo Cafe chef Kevin Martinez will design the menu. The space lends itself to a quick-service concept, Jarry Ho says.

“We just signed on, so we don’t have much besides the concept firmed up,” he says. “Neither the style of the space nor the name are set at this point. We do want something different than what is currently in that area and we also want to cater to the specific demographic that Crockett Row appeals to.”

Press Waffle Company, which like Knife Burger also has a stall in Legacy Hall, will add its hand-crafted waffles to the mix. Bryan Lewis and his brother, Caleb, have gone from food truck to food hall in less than two years. Press’ freshly prepared waffles are ready to serve in 60 seconds and they are a popular element of Legacy Hall.

“I know people have other things to do than stand in line,” Bryan Lewis says. “So far, the response to our product and the food-hall concept has been very positive. We are excited to be working with Hospitality Alliance and looking forward to introducing ourselves to Fort Worth.”

The Belgian-inspired waffles are not only authentic, they are fun, with savory and sweet flavors like The Elvis, topped with peanut butter, bananas, honey and bacon crumble. Or you can choose from a variety toppings to create your own masterpiece. “All of the perimeter spaces, like Press, will have pass-through windows connecting the food hall to foot traffic,” Lillis says.

“We feel very strong about the Dallas-Fort Worth market,” Lillis says. In fact, Hospitality Alliance just opened its first Texas office, with Adrian Verdin serving as executive vice president. The company is already weighing other sites in the region for similar food hall projects.

Lillis, who personally oversaw the transformation of New York’s famed Plaza Hotel, has had a lot of success with food-hall concepts; having brought his vision for a dozen of them to life across the country so far. “I basically stole the idea from Harrods’ famous Food Hall in London,” he says. “We want each food hall to be unique to its location, featuring the best that local cuisine has to offer.

“For me, it starts and ends with the guest experience,” he continues. “Activity and interaction are important, especially to the young-professional crowd. We keep that in mind when designing our spaces. We plan for and build in opportunities for those interactions. We will even have robotic cameras mounted in the ceiling for live streaming music online.”

More operators will be announced soon. Lillis hints that a Fort Worth bakery and a barbecue restaurant might be the next to join the project.

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