Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Dean & Deluca still scouting for Fort Worth store locations

Dean & DeLuca has a pop-up store selling food, beverages and gifts at Colonial Country Club this week.
Dean & DeLuca has a pop-up store selling food, beverages and gifts at Colonial Country Club this week.

A year after Dean & Deluca debuted as the title sponsor for the Colonial golf tournament, Fort Worth is still waiting to learn if it will get one of its gourmet food stores.

Company executives have looked at a number of sites in the Fort Worth area, including in Sundance Square, but have yet to find the right location for either a full-service market or cafe. Its only announced location thus far in North Texas is in the upscale Legacy West development going up in Plano.

“We are still looking for opportunities in the Fort Worth area,” said Adam Miller, senior vice president of operations, adding that a lot of people in the city have expressed interest. “Our presence in Fort Worth is very important to us.”

Dean & Deluca’s markets sell a variety of foods, including fresh produce, meat, seafood, cheese and confections, plus prepared foods, coffee, wine and high-end kitchenware. The retailer also operates the smaller cafes and is developing a new fast casual concept called Dean & Deluca XP.

Thus far, the only exposure to Dean & Deluca for Fort Worth residents has been at Colonial, where it operates a pop-up store called Prince Street selling sandwiches, fresh fruit, drinks, pastries and a selection of gift boxes. There is also a full-service coffee bar.

The business, which started in New York’s SoHo district in 1977, was acquired by Pace Development, a Thailand developer run by Sorapoj Techakraisri, in 2014. D&D currently has about a dozen U.S. locations in New York, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., the Kansas City area, Honolulu and St. Helena, Calif., plus international sites in Japan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

In media interviews, Techakraisri has spoken of adding hundreds of stores around the globe and the company signed onto a six-year title sponsorship with the PGA Tour at Colonial to bolster the luxury brand. But so far expansion has come slowly.

Outside of Plano, only another Washington-area store has been announced, in Bethesda, Md., according to its website. Meanwhile, the opening of a market in Plano, originally scheduled for this spring, has been pushed back. The company continues to work on the design and no opening date has been set, Miller said. The company hopes to have multiple stores in North Texas.

“Expansion is a big part of our future. But we must be very careful that we pick the best locations,” Miller said. “We look forward to expanding the brand out in the next two years.”

Cowtown or bust

Should Fort Worth drop the Cowtown theme from its marketing efforts? A couple of real estate professionals seem to think it might be time.

Edward Manuel, senior vice president of development for Fort Worth-based Trademark Property Co., which is behind the Waterside project in southwest Fort Worth, told attendees to the recent Bisnow gathering on real estate market trends that it doesn’t resonate with millennials, nor does it attract them.

“I love the Cowtown theme,” Manuel said, even if 22-year-olds don’t. “What do we want the brand to be for Fort Worth? We need to think deep and hard.”

Bill Burton, executive vice president with Hillwood Properties, the developer of AllianceTexas, said marketing the city and region should stress education, with all the colleges and universities located here.

“I love Cowtown, too, and it plays to a certain level. But there’s so much more,” Burton said.

Their remarks came after Mayor Betsy Price told the crowd that one of the most popular items she hands out is the Molly lapel pin. Molly, a longhorn, is the city’s official mascot used in the city’s logo. It’s recognized as far away as China, she said.

Even Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has commented on how popular the pins are, she said.

“Fort Worth has long been considered the city of cowboys and culture and so much more,” Price said. It’s that atmosphere, she said, that makes the city “one of the most visited destinations and place to live.” Sandra Baker

Gas, tacos and pizza

Fuel City convenience stores are known for their tacos, cheap gas and exotic animals. So when Fuel City broke ground on its fourth store in Saginaw about two weeks ago, people wondered what sort of surprise John Benda, its owner and chief huckster, had in store for them.

Here’s a hint: Pizza!Pizza!

Little Caesars has decided to open a store-within-a-store franchise in the Saginaw Fuel City on Blue Mound Road, Benda said. They made up their mind after officials from the pizza chain’s Detroit headquarters flew down and toured his stores in Dallas, Mesquite and Haltom City.

The piping hot pizza will be served along with fresh fried pies, the convenience store’s signature street tacos and, in another Fuel City first, a hamburger he’s already named “The King Burger,” Benda said. He said the Saginaw store, at 14,000 square feet, will be his biggest yet.

While his other locations have animals, Benda said the Saginaw site is too small for that. But he hopes its 1880s Western theme, a la “Wild Bill” Hickok, will still make it a fun place to visit.

He’s already looking to open his fifth store in the Metroplex, possibly in Arlington, if he can “find the site.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko