BarNone Aims to Serve Its East Dallas Neighbors
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Old Lake Highlands is a sleepy neighborhood. Located on a hill overlooking the city, it’s known more for its views and proximity to White Rock Lake than anything else. That can change.
At the intersection of North Buckner Boulevard and Northcliff Drive is the White Rock Center, a small mall that has been practically empty for years. Over time, businesses and restaurants returned, staked out space, and filled a void in the community. BarNone is the newest to open its doors to welcome the neighborhood.
The restaurant is the newest establishment of Todd Dickerson and his wife Jennifer. Dickerson made a name for himself in the restaurant industry with more than 20 years of experience as a managing partner at Angry Dog in Deep Ellum. For BarNone, Dickerson wanted to move away from the excitement of the popular Dallas flicks and focus on a neighborhood that was close to him.
“I didn’t want to do Greenville Avenue or Deep Ellum. I didn’t want to be in a party or restaurant district. I just wanted to be a place in the neighborhood, ”says Dickerson. “We lived in East Dallas, not necessarily this neighborhood, but I’ve lived in East Dallas since I moved here. So I knew I wanted to do East Dallas. “
Cheesesteak egg rolls
Dickerson also knew exactly what he wanted to serve. BarNones Kitchen, led by Chef Michael Schueler, offers a sandwich menu that also pays homage to Dickerson’s homestyle creations as well as some of his local favorites.
“Dallas has a lot of dishes – a lot of dishes I grew up eating in the northeast and the south – that are hard to come by in Dallas. That was the first goal, ”says Dickerson. “I don’t want to have to go to Louie’s for a clam casino or Fred’s downtown Philly for a cheesesteak. So there are things on the menu that are only available in a restaurant or two in town, and I just decided I will have them. “
As mentioned earlier, the clam casino is reminiscent of Louie’s, they have a cheesesteak and cheesesteak egg rolls, the cioppino is a Manhattan-style take on clam chowder from Rex’s Seafood, and a variant of the Hillstone burger made from 10 ounces of homemade rosewood becomes ranch Wagyu beef. Even the cocktail menu points out local watering holes.
The menu show stopper is the Sunday sauce and rigatoni, a dish Dickerson would prepare for friends at home. It’s a heaping serving – big enough to serve two or more – of thick tomato sauce, tender noodles, Jimmy’s sausage, whipped herb ricotta, and plenty of garlic butter. It’s as tasty as it is indulgent.
“Literally, the entire menu is just something I like, and I hope Dallasites like it too,” says Dickerson. “I’m taking a huge risk and I hope people like garlic as much as I do, or hamburgers that are 2 ounces bigger than your standard burger. Just things like that. “
While the menu and location were taken for granted – Dickerson’s kids go to school around the corner from St. John’s Episcopal School – opening the restaurant proved difficult. Initially, Dickerson planned to open BarNone in October 2019. He said complications in lease negotiations blocked the opening and then hit COVID-19.
BarNone opened to the public on December 4th. That first night it was full – as busy as it could be 50%, notes Dickerson. Opening it amid a food restrictions pandemic is proving to be a challenge, but he commends his staff for a job well done.
But it’s not just the pandemic that could hamper BarNone’s success. When Venture Commercial bought the property about five years ago, they immediately increased the rent for all existing tenants – almost every business – and painted the property a matt white, like so many mundane two-story new builds that are emerging in the neighborhood. At least a dozen shop windows are still empty. High rents remain.
“I literally pay five times more rent than the Angry Dog. Five times, ”says Dickerson. “And that’s Deep Ellum downtown. This is kind of the edge of East Dallas. “
Still, Dickerson wants to be here. As BarNone and others make their claims in the neighborhood, they help re-establish the feeling of a place in the close community. And it’s the community that Dickerson most wants to connect with. BarNone was only open for a short time, but the neighbors welcomed it warmly.
“I think we’ve been pretty well received and people really go out of their way to stop by even if they don’t come in,” says Dickerson. “We had several people who didn’t go to restaurants [because of] COVID, you ordered takeaway and told us, “We don’t even order takeaway from anywhere, but we just want to make sure you are made to feel welcome”. It was great.”
BarNone, 718 N. Buckner Blvd., No. 100 (Old Lake Highlands). 214-924-3742. Open Monday to Thursday from 3pm to midnight; Friday to Saturday from 3pm to 2am; and on Sunday from 3pm to 11pm.
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