An East Dallas sandwich shop called Goodfriend Package has been the talk among foodie circles this week. Walk into the modest space on Peavy Road, and you might wonder what the fuss is about. Grab a reuben and a six-pack of craft beer to go, and you may be singing a different tune.
Goodfriend Package has become a passion project for partners Josh Yingling and Matt Tobin, who also own local restaurants Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House and the Blind Butcher. What can diners expect? At the least, good beer and good food in a casual atmosphere, Tobin says. The shop opened Jan. 13.
"It's like a combination of Goodfriend on the beer side ... and Blind Butcher on the food side," Tobin says. The idea for deli came from Yingling, who worked at one when he lived in Colorado. He called it one of the most fun jobs he's ever had.
Though the owners acquired the building more than three years ago, Goodfriend Package hit several setbacks, including a 13-month rezoning conundrum to allow the business to sell beer and wine. But buzz continually surrounded the project on its journey toward opening day.
Adding fuel to the flame, Tobin said Thursday that local roaster Cultivar Coffee would be setting up shop in a currently empty bar space at Goodfriend Package, relocating from its location inside Good to Go Taco, which is across the street. The move afforded the business to extend its hours and open on Mondays, says Jonathan Meadows, co-founder of Cultivar.
"It's an opportunity for us to continue to grow and be a stronger company," he says.
Meadows expects to open at Goodfriend Package in mid-February.
Room to grow
Both Yingling and Tobin contend Goodfriend Package is still a work in progress.
A wall of beer coolers lines one side of the store, some still waiting to be filled. On the opposite side is a seating area with tables and a selection of records. (Good Records owner Christopher Penn set up a satellite shop at Goodfriend Package.) A nearly century-old wooden deli counter adds a pop of character to the space.
The kitchen, under direction of chef Oliver Sitrin, opens at 7 a.m. to serve an array of breakfast sandwiches and switches gears at 11 a.m. to feed the lunch crowd with between-breads such as pastrami, a club, smoked chicken salad and grilled cheese. Sandos range $5 to $15.
Those in need of a drink will have to settle for a non-alcoholic beverage.
Though Goodfriend Package offers about 600 different beers and a selection reds and whites, it's licensed as a retail shop, meaning patrons cannot crack a cold one on-site. Owners are considering investing in another license to sell booze for on-site consumption.
Eventually they'd like to offer craft beer tastings and seminar, as well as meat by the pound and some of Blind Butcher's popular sausages.
"We want to grow into it," Yingling says of the staggered approach. "We're trying to do it the right way the first time."
Part of a bigger picture
Yingling and Tobin have big plans for the area near the corner of Peavy and Garland roads. Goodfriend Package marks their second business near that intersection, but they have plans for more. Not original concepts -- 2016 is the year of no new businesses, they (and their families) hope -- but rather ventures by entrepreneurs they bring in to fill vacant spaces.
In December, the duo helped husband and wife Dylan and Pamela Dowdy move their art shop on wheels, Dowdy Studio, into a storefront neighboring Goodfriend Package. Yingling and Tobin recently leased another empty store in the same strip with the intention to sublease.
"We are literally trying to change this whole shopping center," Tobin says.
It's about investing the area to give back to the people who live there. The owners are looking for "good businesses with responsible owners that are bringing a service to the neighborhood that either wasn't previously there or wasn't previously there with that high of quality," Tobin says.
The partners recently built a 2,400-square-foot commissary they call the "meat garage" where they butcher, smoke and cure the proteins used at their restaurants. The long-term plan includes expanding operations to become a wholesale provider.
"It's a vertical integration piece, so we can start to buy things from ourselves, supply ourselves," Tobin says. "Eventually we'll probably grind our own meat for Goodfriend [Beer Garden and Burger House] ... that's what we want to get to."
But the owners don't want to get ahead of themselves just yet.
"We don't have plans to do anything right now except make sure all of our businesses are running correctly," Yingling says. Point taken.