The Mason & Dixie line will be moving north in downtown Grapevine as the made-from-scratch cafe expands into an adjacent space.
Owner Beth Newman said the new space will double the capacity for the restaurant, which currently seats about 38 customers.
“We just don’t have enough seats every day,” Newman said. “We are on a wait every day and there’s not anywhere to wait. I’ll be able to serve our private events a lot better because we’re having to close for those now.”
It’s been a wild ride for Newman, who started a catering business nine years ago. Then, five years ago, she started Mason & Dixie by cooking food in her home kitchen and bringing it to the Antique Mall in Grapevine.S
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She gained a following there so she took leap of faith, opening a brick and mortar restaurant at 603 S. Main St., suite 303 in the heart of downtown Grapevine. Mason & Dixie opened July 9, 2017, so it only took a year to outgrow the space.
“In an economy that’s scary some days and there’s businesses folding, I feel really humbled and excited to be asking for more space and I love how our customers love us,” Newman said. “I love the space over there, too, it’s a corner space. It’s going to give us a lot more visibility for the street.”
The Grapevine City Council approved the expansion at its July 17 meeting.
The expanded restaurant could open before the fall. Cooking is Newman’s passion. She hand chops everything and cooks it all from scratch with no freezer in sight. None of the food comes from restaurant distributors, either.
The menu is fun and quirky with a Which Came First entree that includes a chicken sandwich and an egg sandwich. There are also grown-up grilled cheeses, paninis and daily specials like a crab grilled cheese.
But that also means she spends hours in a hot kitchen doing everything the hard way.
“You can’t get my stuff other places,” she said. “Food Network makes it look glamorous but you better really love it. I’ve had five days off in the last year.”
Grapevine’s downtown strip has become a model for other suburbs and restaurants like Mason & Dixie are a big part of that, said Julia Sizemore, president of the Historic Downtown Grapevine Association.
“The uniqueness brings in a lot of tourists but it also brings in a lot of locals who like the individualness of the stores and restaurants in downtown Grapevine,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore, the operations manager at Chill Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Grapevine, said she was excited to see Mason & Dixie expanding.
“She does a great business over there, her food is spectacular and she is always there,” Sizemore said. “Today’s name of the game is customer service. Everyone who goes in there raves about how great the service is, how great the food is and how cute the restaurant is.”
That attention to detail and decorating is no accident — Newman’s other passion is interior decorating. With the expansion, she’ll have a whole other space to decorate.
“That’s no stress, that’s nothing but fun,” she said. “I’m happy to have a little project next door to do. I just miss doing it, it’s really fun.”
When complete, it will be one space with just a few stairs between the two halves of the restaurant.
Mason & Dixie will be about two blocks from the new TEX Rail commuter station, expected to start service from Fort Worth to D/FW Airport on New Year’s Eve. The platform and parking garage will be ready when the station opens but the Grapevine Main station, which includes a 121-room Hotel Vin, a five-story train station, conference center and 150-foot observation tower, will open later in 2019.
“It’s another reason I was really happy to get that next door so we can have more seats,” Newman said. “Tex Rail is going to be amazing.”
Newman’s main priority is getting the new space open, which could require hiring an additional server and a hostess. She’s recently expanded her hours, staying open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Mason & Dixie also recently started serving brunch on Sundays.
By January, Newman wants to launch a breakfast menu with earlier hours. Long-term, Mason & Dixie could expand with a food truck, serving many of the Newman’s grilled cheese and panini sandwiches around the University of North Texas campus in Denton.
Eventually, she’d like to open a second brick and mortar restaurant but that’s not happening anytime soon.
Newman wants to take each of these additions slowly so she doesn’t compromise on the quality of the food.
“My belief on restaurants and, I’ve been pretty successful with it, if you try to take on too much … or if you’re open a lot you’re cutting corners and you’ll get burned out,” she said.