Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Bank may be built where The Pour House was demolished on West 7th

The Trinity River Tap House, formerly the Pour House, was recently torn down.
The Trinity River Tap House, formerly the Pour House, was recently torn down. Star-Telegram

The Trinity River Tap House, known for most of its existence as The Pour House, closed its doors on a bittersweet Valentine’s Day this year after 20 years in two locations, first downtown and then West 7th Street.

Recently, the final vestige of the sports bar was wiped away when the building, located at 2725 W. 7th St., was demolished, leaving a pile of twisted metal, rubble and fond memories.

Bulldozers from Dallas Demolition moved in on a Tuesday and within two days, the building was down.

Chatter among the neighboring businesses is that a bank could be built on the prime West Seventh Street real estate.

Will Tolliver, a managing director with Leon Capital Group in Dallas, which bought the property a year ago, said they have a signed ground lease with a tenant, but he was not able to release the name. He was not sure when the new tenant would begin working on their building. Building permits for the project haven’t been issued, according to city records.

The Pour House originally opened on Halloween 1995 in downtown Fort Worth but was closed by New Year’s Eve 2008.

The sports bar then moved to West Seventh Street, where it helped pioneer a resurgence in the area. The bar changed names in its final year to the Trinity River Tap House to reflect a focus on craft beer.

On Facebook, owner Eric Tschetter posted about the closing, saying, “Business has just gotten too damn competitive on 7th street and it is not showing signs of slowing down.”

Tschetter continues to run Pour House Dallas, or PhD, in Oak Cliff. Rick Press and Sandra Baker

Oracle of the Barnett Shale

Gene Powell, publisher of the Powell Shale Digest, is known by many names.

“Barnett Shale guru,” “Information Sage,” and probably the best of them all, “Oracle of the Barnett Shale.”

So, it was with some sadness that it was disclosed last week that the 78-year-old veteran oil and gas man was shutting down his influential industry newsletter, not only because of the drastic drop in Barnett Shale drilling activity, but due to illness.

Powell has cancer, and apparently it is a fight he is not expected to win, according to Will Brackett, the newsletter’s former managing editor.

“Gene’s health has declined to the point where he is now no longer able to work and regretfully he is unable to wish everyone a farewell in his own words,” Brackett wrote in a farewell column Tuesday. “So it is left to me with the tall task of speaking on his behalf.”

Powell is credited with the discovery of ten crude oil and two natural gas fields, and in 2012 was named by Hart Energy’s Oil & Gas Investor Magazine as one of the 49 Legends of the Oil & Gas Industry, Brackett writes. Powell was apparently involved in the energy industry for 50 years.

Ironically, Powell initially gave the Barnett Shale a thumbs down in 1999 when its potential as a major natural gas field was first mentioned, Brackett said. The next year, he still wasn’t impressed.

“However, in early 2003, Gene examined the Barnett for a third time and his tune completely changed. So I guess you could say the third time really was the charm,” Brackett said.

Working as a consultant, Powell started sending out what he called the Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter as a pdf file to 38 clients. Years later, after renaming the newsletter to reflect its national coverage, it grew to over 1,000 readers every week.

The fact that Powell is shutting down the publication is made even more bittersweet by the fact that for the past three weeks there have been no drilling rigs in the Barnett, a play that at one time was the laboratory for hydraulic fracturing and supported nearly 200 rigs.

“I thought, ‘Wow!’ We would be bowing out now,” Brackett told the Star-Telegram.

Powell has been a good friend to this newspaper over the years, freely sharing his expertise about the oil and gas business with grace, wit, and what Brackett calls his “passion for research.”

We wish him well.

Envoy Air gate agents rally at DFW

Holding signs saying “What’s Our Worth,” dozens of Envoy Air customer service agents rallied for a new contract last week at Terminal B at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

“We really believe in a fair wage for the work that we do,” Shana Shaw, an Envoy gate agent at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. “[We have] a huge responsibility. There’s a lot that goes into getting an aircraft in the air on time to its destination and doing it in a safe manner.”

Envoy Air, which is wholly-owned by American Airlines Group, has about 3,800 agents working at 94 airports. The employees voted last fall to unionize and be represented by the Communications Workers of America. Contract talks between the union and management began last week.

The agents say they are paid less than half of what’s paid to employees performing similar work at the mainline American Airlines operation.

Some agents qualify for food stamps because their wages are so low. The starting pay for Envoy agents: $9.34 an hour.

“You’re lucky if you get a paycheck for $1,100 a month to try to survive on. That’s a full-time agent and the majority of the agents are part-time agents to start off,” said Mary Wallace, an Envoy agent at Houston Hobby airport.

Since the regional carrier often operates at smaller airports, agents also work on the ramp and guide planes to gates and load baggage.

Envoy, formerly called American Eagle, is one of 10 regional carriers that American has contracted with to operate flights under the American Eagle brand and livery. American, as a result of its merger with US Airways, also owns two other regional airlines, Piedmont and PSA.

American Airlines Group said negotiations with the customer service agents have just begun.

“We respect the rights of all employees to demonstrate and express their opinions,” the company said in a statement. “We have a track record of treating our employees fairly and will conduct our negotiations at the bargaining table.”

Gate agents and customer service representatives at American Airlines operations approved a five-year contract last fall that included pay increases that averaged 30 percent. Those 14,500 workers are also represented by the CWA.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko