Longtime fans of Norma's Cafe will feel right at home in its newest restaurant.
The beloved diner, which has been a Dallas institution for 60 years, opens a fourth location on July 12, and though it's located off Park Lane across the highway from the ultra-trendy NorthPark Center mall, Norma's retains an old-time charm. With its bright yellow and red interior, booths covered to look like Texas flags, and bakery display case showcasing Norma's famous Mile High Pies, stepping inside is like being transported in time.
The juxtaposition isn't lost on owner Ed Murph.
"An anchor is an understatement for what [NorthPark] has done for the area and the whole community over here," Murph says on a recent walk through. "And with the new addition of the Park Lane stores and condos and all that, we just thought it'd be a great fit to have home-style food, home-style cooking and hospitality in such an area."
Norma's inhabits a 4,100-square-foot space in Caruth Plaza, formerly home to Souper Salad. It's decorated with a collection of junkyard gems Murph has acquired over the decades — they remind him of "a slower time ... a better time," he says.
There's the Soap Box Derby car, which reportedly won a few national titles in its day, and the giant Jaws shark head, perched above a door next to the movie poster. Black-and-white pictures of historic Dallas adorn the walls, each with a unique backstory.
Take a peek inside:
The restaurant has seating for 133 patrons, which is similar to Norma's locations in Oak Cliff, North Dallas and Frisco, but it could have held more — Murph erected a wall to make his dining area smaller. Though many business owners might use a new outpost as a chance to shake things up, Murph is content keeping Norma's concept exactly the same.
"If it's not broken, you don't need to fix it," he says.
In keeping with tradition, the newest Norma's will partake in the company's popular rollback pricing and free food days, and charity will remain a cornerstone of the business. In 2015, Norma's donated about $50,000 to organizations, schools and charities, according to marketing director Katy Anderson.
Though there aren't any formal plans to open another Norma's location, expansion seems inevitable given the diner's cult following. Bill Ziegler, the restaurant's director of operations, says the recipe for success is simple enough: "It's the community, it's the food and the people."
Norma's Café at Park Lane opens July 12. It will be open Sunday through Thursday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.