Chef Graham Dodds calls 635 N. Zang Blvd. in Oak Cliff "the dream spot."
"I've looked at it for years," he says.
The address is home to a coming-soon restaurant called The Mayor's House, so named because George Sergeant, Dallas mayor from 1935 to 1937, used to live in the home. Dodds, an Oak Cliff resident who was once executive chef at nearby restaurant Bolsa, talked about Sergeant as if he were channeling his energy from so many decades ago. Dodds called Sergeant "Oak Cliff's mayor."
The Mayor's House is expected to open in May 2019, pending construction.
Dodd's new restaurant is a partnership with restaurateur AJ Gilbert, who owned a string of restaurants called Luna Park in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, and his wife Martha Madison, an actress on Days of Our Lives.
The mayor's house on Zang Boulevard will maintain most of the original floorplan, where diners will eat in small rooms throughout the two-story space. The front porch "overlooks the Dallas skyline," Dodds notes, "which will be a really sweet spot for that view."
The restaurant was first expected to be a Dallas offshoot of Luna Park, but Dodds says it's transformed into a more personal project: a smattering of Dodd's favorite dishes, inspired by his travels and his family.
"I'm still going to buy stuff from local farms, and buy responsibly and sustainably," he says. Fondue and fried pies were a signature at Luna Park, so Dodds says he may add his own versions to the menu at The Mayor's House. He's also planning to add some kind of fish and chips because his family is from Britain. And the menu will surely include vegetarian and vegan menu items.
"I'm so into that, the vegetable-forward stuff," he says, noting that "a lot of people expect me to do those dishes" because of his inventive vegetarian charcuterie board from Wayward Sons, now shuttered. But more than that, Dodds hopes The Mayor's House's menu is full of classic dishes.
"You cook to the dining room," he says. "Everything we did at Hibiscus was relevant to that dining room. I feel, even more so now with this old, historic house ... I want to cook like that. I want plateware that feels like it's back in time a little bit. Obviously we're doing modern approaches to stuff, but I want to have some of that classic feel and timeless to it."
Escape Hatch Dallas was first to report that Dodds would be the chef at The Mayor's House.
The Mayor's House will be located at 635 N. Zang Blvd., Dallas, and is expected to open in May.