Hot Joy, a restaurant in Uptown Dallas with a purposefully short life span, has closed unexpectedly.
"It just didn't work," says Jack Gibbons, president of Front Burner Restaurants.
Hot Joy was always going to be a short-lived restaurant because of its two-year lease at the corner of Lemmon and Cole avenues in Uptown Dallas. But three months? That was shorter than expected. We first saw the closure of the restaurant as reported by the Dallas Observer.
The San Antonio-based restaurant closed Saturday, Oct. 28 after Gibbons says customers didn't patronize the restaurant as frequently as expected. Its lack of popularity was a surprise: Hot Joy came in with major street cred as Bon Appetit named the original Hot Joy in San Antonio the No. 7 best new restaurant in 2014. At the time, writer Andrew Knowlton called the food "irreverent and profoundly irresistible."
Our special contributor Mark Vamos mostly agreed, calling it "a rude, playful thumb in the eye of such culinary preciosity and political correctness."
"There's not a single 'authentic' thing" on the menu," Vamos says in a 2-star review. Then he called much of the food "great fun to eat."
The Observer blasted the restaurant for its "cultural cluelessness."
Gibbons countered that the restaurant closed simply because it wasn't popular.
"Hot Joy never tried to be authentic," Gibbons says. "It just didn't resonate and it didn't work."
The restaurant's Facebook page did appear to try to tackle some of the Observer's complaints by posting a photo of its kitchen, showing off its diverse staff. Another Facebook post encouraged diners to "forget about the haters and get in here!"
The restaurant was a partnership between Hot Joy owner Chad Carey and D-FW company Front Burner, which operates D-FW restaurants Sixty Vines, Whiskey Cake, Velvet Taco and others. (The group is also opening a food hall in Plano in early November and plans to expand several of its restaurants to other Texas cities.)
Hot Joy in San Antonio will remain open.
Front Burner will maintain the two-year lease, after which the building will be demolished. Gibbons says his team will likely reopen an entirely new restaurant in 2018 there. "It was inherently a pop up," Gibbons says. "When something's not working, we try to come up with the next big idea."
For now, the space will be used for private parties over the holidays, he says.
Tommy Cummings contributed to this story.