After months of anticipation, Twisted Root’s trademark buffalo burgers are sizzling on the grill in the Backyard, signaling the start of spring and the further evolution of downtown Mansfield.
Like a cookout in your own backyard, customers can visit the Backyard, chill out, play cornhole or just enjoy the sunshine. This summer, the Backyard will add Tacos & Avocados, Hypnotic Emporium, an ice cream shop, and a By the Horns Brewing to the mix. There will be a stage for live music and a single alcohol license so people can walk anywhere in the confines of the Backyard with a drink in hand.
“It’s more of a parklike atmosphere that happens to have a bar and food around it,” said Jaso Boso, owner and chef for Twisted Root and other restaurant concepts. “We want people to come hang out for a while, not just eat their food and leave. We have a history of going in and helping to revitalize downtown areas like Roanoke, Carrollton and Bedford.”
The Backyard, at 109 S. Main St., is part of a downtown renaissance that includes its neighbor, Mellow Mushroom, Dirty Job Brewing and others. The new Main Street Lofts started leasing apartments on North Main Street, putting a younger demographic within walking distance of the downtown strip.
Twisted Root officially opened March 14, just in time for the World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza, which typically draws thousands to Main Street.
“It’s been pretty overwhelming," Boso said. "It’s one of the biggest openings we've ever had."
Kim McCaslin, vice president of MR Development, came up with the concept of the Backyard, having two restaurants, an ice cream shop and a brewery all sharing one property with chairs, tables and games outdoors. “It’s very much a hangout place,” McCaslin said.
The old auto repair garage is still there, it’s just been repurposed for Tacos & Avocados and the brewery. Even the new structures on-site have a vintage brick look.
“We wanted to repurpose what we could and keep that vintage feel of downtown,” he said.
Customers will be able to order their favorite beer brands at the restaurants or pick a craft beer made on-site at By the Horns Brewery. Glass panels will give customers a full view into how the beer is made. By the Horns will primarily sell on-site but will also distribute to other Mansfield restaurants, McCaslin said.
What’s next for downtown
This is just the beginning for downtown Mansfield, where new trails, mixed-use projects and a dog park are about to start construction or just starting the planning stages.
On the other side of town, Mansfield’s Parks and Recreation Department is building a new administration building on Matlock Road just south of Oliver Nature Park, said James Fish, park planner. Construction is expected to start soon and be completed by the end of 2018. That creates new opportunities as city workers move out of the old office on Smith Street. The city has already sought input from developers for how that building, which used to be a fire station, could be redeveloped into a mixed-use project.
This spring, construction will start on new trails on either side of North Main Street, Fish said. One will go from Town Park south to Oak Street, connecting the Walnut Creek Linear Trail to downtown. The other will go from the Main Street Lofts south to Oak Street. Future phases of the Main Street Lofts will also include an extension of the Walnut Creek Linear Trail west under Main Street to create a small park there.
Mansfield is also in the early planning stages for the city’s first dog park at 604 W. Broad St., a half mile from Twisted Root. Long-term plans call for the city extending the Walnut Creek Linear Trail along the creek to the dog park.
Breaking down the incentives
The Backyard project received incentives that helped spur it along. MR Development received $405,170 for public infrastructure, including the connection to the Pond Branch Linear Trail and on-site drainage. The funds came from the city’s general fund, the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corp. and the Mansfield Economic Development Corp. General fund expenses will be paid back by the tax increment reinvestment zone as property values rise at the Backyard and other downtown properties.
The parks corporation dollars are dedicated to parks and are funded by a half-cent sales tax. For the Backyard, this helped pay for the public trail that goes from the linear trail to South Main Street.
The economic development corporation is funded by a separate half-cent sales tax. The city also gave Brain Storm Shelter Llc., the parent company for Twisted Root and Boso’s other restaurant concepts, a $550,000 forgivable loan. For every year that Twisted Root, Tacos & Avocados and Hypnotic Emporium are in business, $110,000 of the loan is forgiven.
Having direct access to the Pond Branch Linear Park, which opened in February, has changed downtown, McCaslin said. The Backyard will soon add bike racks to the restaurant, too.
“It’s just opened up south downtown,” she said. “It makes it much more pedestrian-friendly.”