A large, Instagram-ready message by the door of The Station Patio Icehouse in Old Town Keller reads, “Relax. Everything is running right on schedule.”
The same slogan is on the back of servers’ T-shirts, and it’s repeated on a wall near the bar. It appears to have come from someone with a strong sense of humor, because The Station Patio Icehouse is opening Oct. 15. Yes, a fall opening was projected. It just happened to be last fall.
When Star-Telegram contributor Nicholas Sakelaris first wrote about The Station Patio Icehouse in June 2017, the founders originally were looking at the end of September 2017 for an opening. Signs saying “coming soon” changed from fall to spring and then to summer.
But maybe that works to the Icehouse’s advantage: It’s across from Seven Mile Cafe, which draws big crowds with its weekend breakfasts, crowds that probably couldn’t help but notice the water tower, patio and other renovations going on across the street in what used to be a modest Mexican restaurant.
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And maybe the restaurant just wanted to get things right.
“Some delay was definitely attributed to new city code requirements that were updated and implemented into this new redevelopment during this period,” Melody Bedford, a restaurant representative, said in an email. “However, being that this is a new concept we wanted to make sure that we got all the details right, from the kitchen, the building architecture, stage and solid training for our staff. Rushing to just get open was not what we wanted.”
A train theme, inspired by Keller’s railroad past (Sakelaris wrote that the train station that put Keller on the map is long gone, but there is still a railroad track running through town with multiple trains on it daily), dominates the restaurant — OK, maybe dominate is too strong a word when there were about 20 TVs, all tuned to sports channels, with one visible pretty much any place you look.
There are more Instagram-ready murals inside: a large black-and-white photo of a railway bridge on one wall, a large photo of a train engine on another. The water tower, a key piece of the patio, has a fire pit beneath it. The patio is dog-friendly, although as usual there are several rules that dog owners will have to observe.
Food is a collection of starters, salads, wraps, sandwiches (with names like “The Pullman Pretzel Melt,” “The Rail Car Reuben” and, yes, “The Train Wreck”), burgers (including “The Ghost Train,” which features ghost-pepper cheese and fried jalapeños), hot dogs, pizzas and a couple of entrees. Food prices top out at 20 bucks for a 12-ounce Wagyu steak with a side salad, garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.
A children’s menu is available, as are a few vegetarian and gluten-free options. Much of the menu was not available at the soft-opening lunch we attended, which featured a limited menu of turkey sliders, wings, a “Big Boy Grilled Cheese” (melted cheddar and thick-cut bacon on Texas toast) and the “RR Crossing Cookie” (a hot chocolate-chip cookie served in a small skillet and topped with vanilla ice cream). The Ghost Train was available, and although the toppings were applied a little unevenly, bite into it in the right place and you’ll feel the heat.
It was the city’s $4 million investment in new roads, pedestrian walkways and utility lines in Old Town Keller that drew co-founder Rick Figueroa to build in Keller.
“The stars aligned when we found this place,” Figueroa told Sakelaris. “There’s the whole history of the railroad station. There’s an historic railroad locomotive right in front of our building. That’s why a lot of things jelled.”
The restaurant has a 3,000-square-foot interior dining space, an 1,800 square-foot climate-controlled patio and a 3,000-square-foot beer garden with cornhole, fire pits and lounge chairs. During the soft opening, the patio wasn’t ready for use — although rain on our Tuesday visit kind of diminished the appeal of the patio anyway (there is a covered portion, though). The patio is expected to be ready by the official Monday opening.
The patio stage adds another large, attractive outdoor place to see music — Old Town Keller has a few of those — including Michael Lee, who is currently competing on the NBC series “The Voice” and will appear Oct. 27; and “Crowman Jam,” an open-mic series hosted by Mike Crow of KTFW/92..1 “Hank FM” that pairs aspiring singers with such special guests as Red Steagall.
Station Patio Icehouse is at 111 W. Vine St. in Keller, on the west side of North Main Street/U.S. 377. 817-657-4399, http://stationicehouse.com. Hours will be 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday.
This report contains material from Star-Telegram archives.