The ever-changing Trinity Groves in West Dallas is always home to new restaurants.
"New" is the point here: A team of investors part-own many of the restaurants with chefs and restaurateurs who otherwise couldn't afford to open one on their own. In turn, investors can actively watch their "incubator" restaurants with the hope that some will spawn national business.
Investor Phil Romano and his team maintain the right to close restaurants in Trinity Groves that don't succeed. Didi's Tamale Diner opened in late November 2014 and closed the last day in January 2015. Diners didn't patronize it enough, Romano said; it was the first casualty in the complex.
"We're an incubator. We try them out and if they don't work, we close them," Romano said. He plans to focus less on restaurants with counter service, since diners at Trinity Groves seem to want to be seated and served, he said.
The master plan for Trinity Groves includes more than 80 acres of development in West Dallas, a neighborhood that previously was not considered a hotbed for new business. If the development goes Romano's way, Trinity Groves will be similar to West Village: It'll have restaurants (of which more than a dozen are already open), plus housing, hotels and retail. The next phase calls for 300 apartments.
"[This area] was not very desirable," said investor Phil Romano. "We've taken that land and made it desirable."
A Dallas Morning News story about Trinity Groves in early 2014 called it a dining theme park, and that's still true today. Name a style of cuisine and Trinity Groves likely has it. Some of the existing restaurants include Amberjax Fish Market Grille (seafood); Casa Rubia (Spanish tapas); Chino Chinatown (Asian and Latin); Kate Weiser Chocolate (specialty sweets); and Souk (Moroccan). Four Corners Brewing Company is also nearby.
Romano and co. have plenty more planned. Here's a look at some of its newest restaurants:
Sushi Bayashi: Trinity Groves' first and only sushi restaurant opened Tuesday, Feb. 10. It's "casual sushi," according to a statement, with a menu of sushi, sashimi and rolls, plus specials from chef Yuki Hirabayashi (former master sushi chef at Kenichi in Dallas).
Off-Site Kitchen: If you're a fan of restaurateur Nick Badovinus' burger joint on Irving Boulevard near the Design District, expect the same menu of inexpensive, award-worthy burgers when it opens in Trinity Groves. The new OSK is located in front of the main bank of Trinity Groves restaurants, in a building covered in murals from artist Shepard Fairey. The new Off-Site Kitchen gives Badovinus' staff more room to make its famous smashed flat-top burgers.
Sugar Skull Cafe: The co-owner of existing Trinity Groves restaurant Casa Rubia is the first restaurateur to open a second restaurant within Trinity Groves.Jonn Baudoin's Sugar Skull Cafe will be a taco, coffee and dessert shop.
St. Rocco's: This New York Italian style restaurant is near and dear to Romano, as it was his idea. Chef Jay Valley, who was involved with opening Eatzi's, is involved in developing a menu of Italian dishes such as ravioli and lasagna. The three-story building has the restaurant on the bottom level, with a private event venue on the second floor and a bar on top coming soon.
An unnamed steakhouse: Romano's team hasn't landed on the final name for a steak restaurant that will join Trinity Groves on the back side of the complex. He can say this: It'll have a long bar and a "limited menu" of only a few steaks. This steakhouse goes in next-door to Kate Weiser Chocolate and behind Chino Chinatown.
Two existing restaurants in Trinity Groves have closed or moved. They are:
Babb Bros BBQ and Blues: The barbecue restaurant was open on one side of Singleton Boulevard, but it moved behind the main Trinity Groves restaurant building on the other side of the road. That was the plan all along, Romano said. The new restaurant has the same menu and same decor. Construction plans call for garage doors around much of the building so the barbecue joint can have an indoor-outdoor feel during pleasant weather, he said.
Hofmann Hots: This, too, had to relocate because of the apartment construction. The fast-casual restaurant served hot dogs and shakes. For now, it has not found its new home.
With Didi's Tamale Diner now closed, there's also room for a new restaurant there. What kind? "I can't tell you about that yet," Romano said. Stay tuned.
How do I get there?
A 2014 Dallas Morning News story gives these directions:
1 Coming from the east side, if you’re headed west on Woodall Rodgers Freeway, just stay on the freeway — it turns into the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (just follow the signs). The bridge turns into Singleton Boulevard, and in a block or so you’ll see Trinity Groves on both sides.
2 If you’re coming from the north — Stemmons Freeway (Interstate 35E) — the Singleton Boulevard exit takes you directly onto the bridge headed west. Why does the sign say only “Singleton Boulevard” and not “Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge”? That’s the Dallas question of the decade. Anyway, that’s your exit.
3 If you’re coming from the south on Stemmons Freeway, unfortunately, there is no direct ramp. Exit at Continental and turn left (west), then go to Riverfront and make another left (heading south). The bridge entrance ramp will be on your right.
4 From downtown, take Commerce Street west, turn right on Riverfront, and turn left at the light at Woodall Rodgers Freeway. There’s no sign indicating the bridge, but that’s how you enter.