Restaurants

A big closing, a risky opening, identity crises: September in Tarrant restaurants

Three-meat plate (half smoked chicken, pork ribs, brisket) with smoked poblano creamed corn, jalapeño coleslaw, french fries and more at Barrel & Bones Craft Bar and Smokehouse, which opened in September in Montgomery Plaza in Fort Worth — in a spot where seven restaurants have come and gone in the past few years.
Three-meat plate (half smoked chicken, pork ribs, brisket) with smoked poblano creamed corn, jalapeño coleslaw, french fries and more at Barrel & Bones Craft Bar and Smokehouse, which opened in September in Montgomery Plaza in Fort Worth — in a spot where seven restaurants have come and gone in the past few years. Kelcher Entertainment Group

In the ever-evolving and -revolving Tarrant restaurant scene, September saw the closing of a once-buzzworthy spot adjacent to West 7th Street, an opening in a spot where a lot of other places have closed, an unusual amount of name changes, and more. Here’s a recap:

WHAT OPENED

Slice City Pizza opened in early September in a space that had looong been set for Flippin Pizza, which had gotten as far as putting its name on the door but never opened. According to Star-Telegram “Eats Beat” columnist Bud Kennedy, Slice City, which advertises “N.Y. Slices and Pies” on the banner covering up the Flippin sign, comes from the extended Joe’s Pizza & Pasta chain of restaurants in DFW. 4601 West Fwy. No. 220 (on the Hulen Street side of the Chapel Hill shopping center anchored by Central Market), Fort Worth, 817-377-0616. No website or social media at this writing.

Barrel & Bones Craft Bar & Steakhouse opened Sept. 14 in a Montgomery Plaza spot with a troubled history (seven restaurants have come and gone in the space). Barrel & Bones, which will split the “jinxed” corner space with its sister restaurant Bourbon Street Oyster Bar & Grlil (due to open in October), is either a barbecue restaurant with a great whiskey program or a whiskey bar with an eclectic BBQ menu. Around 200 whiskeys are listed and the BBQ lineup includes Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis ribs and Kobe beef ribs, and Alabama chicken, slathered in a mayonaisse-based barbecue sauce. No, really.. 2600 W. Seventh St. No. 153, Fort Worth, https://www.barrelandbones.com

The Crab Station Oyster Bar, which already has locations in Arlington, Carrollton, the Colony and Dallas, opened its first Fort Worth location in September at 2701 Bello Hill Lane No. 131 in the sprawling Presidio Junction shopping center in far north Fort Worth. Lots of shellfish and other seafood dishes, as well as three burgers including a Wagyu beef cheeseburger, on the menu. Get ready for more shellfish coming to North Tarrant: Shell Shack will have a location on Heritage Trace Parkway, maybe before the end of the year, and the Lost Cajun, a hit in Mansfield, has announced plans for a Keller Parkway location — and the likelihood of more Lost Cajuns finding north Tarrant in the future.

Everest Burgers opened in a former Wendy’s on Southlake Boulevard. Everest is a California-based fast-food chain known for its charbroiled burgers, but Star-Telegram “Eats Beat” columnist Bud Kennedy says ‘It’s like an East Coast-style deli and diner gone San Fernando Valley, serving the Bicos family’s chili-cheese burritos or pancakes in the morning and pastrami sandwiches, fish tacos or Greek gyros with tzatziki at night.” 2325 W. Southlake Blvd., everestburgers.com.

WHAT CLOSED

Max’s Wine Dive closed over Labor Day weekend. Known for fried chicken and champagne but mostly for staff turnover, Max’s opened in 2013 under emerging chef Stefon Rishel and quickly developed a reputation as one of the most popular wine bistros and Sunday brunch restaurants in the West 7th corridor. But the restaurant struggled after Rishel left in 2016. A couple of other noteworthy local chefs, Victor Villarreal and then Jenna Kinard, followed Rishel. The Houston-based Max’s closed its Dallas location last year, and is now without a location in North Texas.

In the Sack, a Dallas-based sandwich shop with gourmet wines and liquors known for free delivery, closed its Sundance Square location on Sept. 22, less than two weeks shy of its first anniversary in the spot (415 Throckmorton St. in downtown Fort Worth). Star-Telegram “Eats Beat” columnist Bud Kennedy pointed out that the shop has been hurt by expanding food and grocery delivery options. “Everybody delivers these days,” Kennedy noted. But the Dallas location of In the Sack remains open. Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell has already announced that he will open a location of his popular Buffalo Bros. Pizza Wings & Subs in the same spot in 2019.

The Smoke Pit, a barbecue shack just east of the Trinity River on Belknap Boulevard, closed after 57 years in business.. Co-owner Sam Gibbins said the closing of the restaurant at 2401 E. Belknap St. is timed to the October reopening of Sammie’s Bar-B-Q, 3801 E. Belknap St. That’s a newer building that was left vacant when the 72-year-old Sammie’s closed last year. Eats Beat columnist Bud Kennedy covered the history of Smoke Pit and Sammie’s in a recent column, which you can read here.

Fairmount Music Hall, which opened in early 2018 in the former Live Oak Music Hall space off of Magnolia Avenue, closed on the last weekend of September. Although it hosted some pretty good names — Lee Roy Parnell was joined by Buddy Whittington during a September show — the Music Hall (which also served food) was unable to get “the locals and weekly traffic” it had hoped for, according to a Facebook message. The building at 1311 Lipscomb St. has one of the best rooftop-dining spots around; maybe someone else will snatch it up and find a way to bring people in.

WHAT CHANGED

The first week of September brought a flurry of name changes in Tarrant restaurants. Although we didn’t find out about it till Keller-based Texas Blaze Newspaper tweeted about it on Sept. 11, Keller’s Bronson Rock Burgers & Beer became the Pour Shack on Sept. 1 as part of an ownership change. It’s the latest chapter in a choppy history for Bronson Rock, whose name came from biker slang: A “Bronson rock” is any unconventional tool used to repair a motorcycle. It opened around 2011, closed in October 2016, reopened under new ownership in March 2017 and now has assumed this new identity. The Pour Shack is a more prosaic name, but the place still offers food, beer and live music. 250 S. Main St., Keller, @pourshack on Facebook.

Perch, which opened at the end of May on the 12th floor of the new Frost Bank tower in downtown Fort Worth, changed its name to Branch & Bird — two things that were on the logo for Perch. Reportedly, some people thought that Perch was a seafood restaurant and not a, you know, perch on the 12th floor of a building (with a wrap-around balcony with great east, north and west views). Branch & Bird is still a coffee bar in the morning, a salad/sandwich/panini/flatbread stop at lunch, a cocktail bar with a fairly expansive food menu at night. And it still has those views. You might even see a bird or two. Or a branch. But probably no perches — of the fish kind, at least. 640 Taylor St., 12th floor, Fort Worth, http://www.branchbirdfw.com

The Bottom, a TCU-area restaurant on Bluebonnet Circle, changed its name in September to the more TCU-friendly (and less unappetizing) Purple Frog Restaurant & Cantina. Its part of a series of name changes for the Bottom, which was a seafood reference, morphing from Rock Bottom Bar & Grill, which was an evolution (or perhaps a de-evolution) from original name Ocean Rock. “A new menu broadens the dining offerings,” Bud Kennedy wrote in an “Eats Beat” column, “and the Purple Frog continues [the] popular weekend brunch menu.” It doesn’t look like that big a place, but its menu is pretty big. 3468 Bluebonnet Circle, Fort Worth, @ThePurpleFrogRestaurant on Facebook. At this writing, http://thebottombarandgrill.com was still the URL but it redirects to a Purple Frog website where you can find the menu.

Also in September: British-themed gastropub the Londoner announced that it was closing its 5150 Colleyville Blvd. location, blaming the shutdown on construction. But it plans to reopen, maybe as soon as the end of September, at 5120 State Highway 121, also in Colleyville. According to Yelp, that’s the now-former location of Dallas Craft Co. For updates, follow @TheLondonerColleyville on Facebook.

In July, Fort Worth restaurants have had more than 250 health code violations. These seven violations are the most common in Fort Worth restaurants.

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