Downtown Plano is a downright magic place. Dotted with craft beer bars, a small-but-diverse selection of restaurants and charming brick streets, the bustling little neighborhood's dramatic transformation into a nightlife destination seemed to happen overnight. Though there's little need for a reason to visit, one big one returns on May 22: The second annual Night Out on 15th.
Updated, May 20: The Downtown Plano Arts District Facebook page announced Friday morning that the 2016 Night Out on 15th has been postponed until June 5 due to potential rain Sunday. All tickets will be honored on the new date.
This year's event features a 5-course menu with offerings from downtown restaurants as diverse as Lockhart Smokehouse and Uni Sushi. How does that even work?
"Chefs have been getting together for over a month now, talking about the menu," says Michelle Hawkins, Administrator of Arts, Culture and Heritage for the city's Plano Stages department. She says the collaborative effort includes dishes regulars will be familiar with as well as off-menu items not typically available in the restaurants. They'll be working with student servers from Cafe Momentum, a Dallas restaurant that helps juvenile offenders develop work skills and get back on the right track.
"I haven't even seen the menu yet, so I can't wait to see what they've done," she adds.
Updated, May 19: You can check out the planned menu, now available online.
The evening begins with a craft cocktail hour at the newly opened McCall Plaza, and each dinner course will be paired with beer, wine and spirits. New this year is an after-dinner whiskey and cigar lounge hosted by Woodford Reserve and Lone Star Cigars. Hawkins says she's excited to bring in Lone Star Cigars for its first year of participation because it is part of the city's goal to be inclusive to a broader section of the Arts District.
Among the participating shops are Angela's at the Crosswalk, Amazeballz, Fillmore Pub, Lockhart Smokehouse, Urban Rio, Urban Crust, Uni Sushi, Brix Bar & Grill, Dude Sweet Chocolate, Vickery Park and Zalat. There will also be entertainment by way of a string quartet, a jazz band and a DJ at the new McCall Plaza stage.
Last year's inaugural Night Out on 15th faced a bit of early hardship; uncharacteristic spring floods postponed the outdoor food and drink event for a couple of weeks and, as a result, some patrons requested refunds because they couldn't make the new date. Even still, organizers had no trouble selling the refunded tickets, and the event easily sold-out. This year, it is capped at 220 tickets and more than 100 are already reserved.
"There are only so many seats at the table," Hawkins says.
Among those seats may even be a famous -- or, if you prefer, infamous -- North Texan, Brandi Redmond, star of the much-ballyhooed Real Housewives of Dallas. Hawkins the feisty former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader has committed, loosely, to the event.
It's not the city's first rodeo with the RHOD. In April, LeeAnne Locken appeared downtown to say she was "Plano proud" after a seemingly impolite quip about the city during the show's first episode. But, Plano wasn't really angry. Marketing Director Shannah Hayley found the mention amusing and had already made up funny t-shirts in jesting retaliation.
Night Out on 15th tickets are $150. Purchase them online.