A ‘mini Klyde Warren Park’ in Far North Dallas will welcome new restaurants in 2021 at Hillcrest, Arapaho
Today the northwest corner of Hillcrest and Arapaho Streets in the far north of Dallas is a construction zone flanked by largely empty storefronts. Developer David Sacher wants to “give the neighborhood back its neighboring village” by spring 2021, when half a dozen restaurants open in a 1.5-hectare city park, nicknamed the “Mini Klyde Warren” Park. “
Sacher grew up in the area where Richardson and Far North Dallas share a border. Sacher is a co-founder of Shop Companies, and he and Daniel Fuller, President of Shop Development, are working with the city of Dallas on a public-private partnership to revitalize an area long overdue.
Fuller puts it politely: “There was a lack of charm.”
Jenny Galvan, the co-owner of Haystack Burgers who grew up nearby in Richardson, recalls: “This mall was neither welcoming nor inviting.”
Perhaps the most telling of Leslie Williams’ candid interview in 2018 is: “It was basically sitting here to let the bugs crawl in and out while people fall out like flies.”
Construction workers cut through concrete as they sculpt the walk-in areas during renovation at Hillcrest Village in far north Dallas.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
The Shop Companies team demolished a dreary two-story building that was built in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It made way for the park, a large green lawn valued at $ 4.3 million by the city of Dallas. The park is flanked by upcoming restaurants on either side. A playground has already been installed in the back of the park.
The park is slated for completion in late January 2021, says Leong Lim, deputy interim director for construction and planning for the city of Dallas.
The developers say the neighborhood is home to young families, many of whom attend elementary schools in Brentfield and Prestonwood, two Richardson ISD locations that were rated “A”.
Sacher recalls the feeling of a “small town” in the neighborhood a long time ago – a feeling that you are in town but part of a close community.
“As a kid, we rode our bikes up here and hung out at the baseball card shop and at Blockbuster Video,” says Sacher. Sacher notices his “emotional connection” with the property, which is shared by shop brokerage partner Josh Beliak, who also grew up in the region, and is the leasing agent for the property.
Daniel Fuller, left, President of Shop Development, is on a tour of the Hillcrest Village mall under construction in Dallas on December 10, 2020.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)The Tipsy Chicken Enchilada plate and the rocket and carrot salad are two menu items at Lada, which is now open in Hillcrest Village in the far north of Dallas.(Lynda M. González / employee photographer)
The first restaurant to open across from Hillcrest Village’s new park – and the only one that is currently operating – is Lada, an enchilada shop created by Chef Michael Ehlert. A few years ago he was involved in the high profile reopening of the French Room in downtown Dallas.
Although Lada is an order place with an airy terrace, the restaurant was carefully designed by the prestigious Austin Company Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Ehlert’s food is accessible, but has the touch of a gourmet chef.
Don Pepe’s Rancho Mexican Grill opens at the far end of the park near the playground. Owner Jose Jaimes has been working nearby on Coit and Arapaho Streets since 1985. In 1990, he ran a tiny restaurant called Mexigo before moving and changing the name to Don Pepe’s, which was open in the area from 2001 until it closed in 2019.
Jaimes stuck in the neighborhood for decades: landlords mixed him into several new rooms, often because bigger, safer tenants – Panera Bread, for example – came in his place.
“Every time we were faced with adversity, we found a way. And we were often in a better situation, ”says Johnathan Tebeau, Jaimes’ son-in-law.
Jaimes remembers the names of customers he has served for three decades. There is Barbara, his first customer at Mexigo in 1990. “How could I forget her? She was my first customer and she wasn’t happy with me because we were so busy, ”he says.
A few decades later, “she and others still come to Jose,” he says with a smile.
“It was such a blessing that we can feed three generations of customers. They show us so much love. “
Don Pepes is expected to open in February. Jaimes hopes families will sit on the terrace, drink a margarita and watch their children play in the playground in front of it.
Haystack Burgers is another restaurant opening in Hillcrest Village. The company has expanded across North Texas to Frisco and two parts of Dallas. The original location is in Richardson, near Belt Line Road and the Central Expressway.
The characteristic menu item at Haystack is the Haystack burger. (Hunter Lacey / Special Contributor)
That’s barely 4 miles away, but co-owners Kevin and Jenny Galvan believe they can attract a new group of customers in Far North Dallas.
They are Richardson residents and have passed the intersection “every day for 10 years” to take their children to school.
“We know the mall – and we know how it used to look. We always thought there was potential there, ”says Kevin Galvan.
Haystack is slated to open in January. The galvans call it “by far our finest business”.
The Brass Tap Beer Bar, which franchisee Vidya Gounder refers to as an “upscale bar”, is opening in the middle of development and offers a beer garden with a view of the park. Inside the restaurant there are televisions for sports and an area for live music.
While all tenants at Hillcrest Village are kid-friendly, Sacher likes Brass Tap because it offers a bar-like environment that’s more geared towards adults.
He calls it “a fun place to relax and be outside or inside.”
Gounder signed the lease before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. They – like others in development – plan to do this and expect Brass Tap to be able to deliver their Korean grill slides, chicken wings, fish tacos and the like by delivery or pickup when needed.
Brass tap is scheduled to open in spring 2021.
Shop Companies has signed nearly 30 Hillcrest Village leases, according to Fuller. Many are not restaurants, such as the indoor playground Kids Empire on one corner.
Andy’s Frozen Custard will start building soon. Haute Sweets Patisserie, a bakery with an existing store in the Lake Highlands / White Rock area of Dallas, opens in a location overlooking the park. Starwood Cafe is also coming soon, around the corner from the park. This also applies to the SushiBox, which has a restaurant in Rockwall.
Some stores, like Village Donuts and Starbucks, have been open in Hillcrest Village for years – and they will stay open as new restaurants around them.
Fuller and Sacher hope that most of the new restaurants will be open by March. Except one:
“We have this 3,200-square-foot space in the park that we think is a special restaurant,” says Fuller. It’s on the corner of the park, visible from Arapaho, and they’re still looking for the right restaurateur.