Correction, Aug. 1, 2017: Revised to include the correct name of the owner of Beachcomber.
Crickets: You could hear them from the porch of The Shacks, a new restaurant and dog park in The Colony.
"There's something that happens to you when you sit here," says Lucy Billingsley of the development just built 2 miles west of the Dallas North Tollway, north of Parker Road. "This has to be the anti-sit-down restaurant. It's the anti-strip-retail place." She's co-owner of the Billingsley Co., which oversees major developments in Dallas-Fort Worth — "strip-retail places" included. It's the developer of the 1,900-acre Austin Ranch, of which The Shacks is a part.
With The Shacks' comfy porch seating and restaurants that look like cabins at somebody's posh lakehouse, Billingsley hopes visitors forget they're near the big city. Here, dogs can roam in the nearly one-acre dog park (with separated sections for the little ones and the not-so), then Mom or Dad can grab lunch or dinner at one of six restaurants — seven, if you include the light bites that will be served at Beachcomber Cafe when it opens in August.
Beachcomber is owned by Fabricio Freire. This new sand volleyball bar in The Colony will mean that residents nearby — and Billingsley says there are about 5,000 in Austin Ranch — will have a new place to play rec sports and drink.
Next door, the six restaurants in The Shacks are all connected by a large patio and lots of places to sit. The first restaurant, open since April, is ramen shop Ten. Its original in West Dallas is a standing-room-only place where ramen lovers stop in for a bowl, slurp it on site, and leave quickly. At Ten in The Shacks, the interior still is not a place to linger, though customers can sit and stay awhile if they grab a seat at a picnic table out back, says executive chef Matthew Hoa.
The next restaurant — expected to open in July — is OMG Tacos. Its four co-owners, all in their 20s, operate the original OMG Tacos in Richardson and the brand-new, buzzy Sweet Daze Dessert Bar, also in Richardson. OMG Tacos at The Shacks will serve an identical menu to the Richardson original. The shop is known for its simple street tacos, with the OMG steak as the most popular, says co-owner Holly Nguyen.
OMG Tacos will be open until 3 a.m. Yes, in the 'burbs!
Dirty Burger Bar, expected to open in July, was named because customers might get messy when they eat one of the six burgers on the menu, design guy Cory Pope explains.
Its neighbor, the Tackle Box, will be a seafood restaurant operated by the same restaurateurs as Dirty Burger Bar — Frank Carabetta and Celia Lopez of Pier 247 and 303 Bar and Grill in Oak Cliff. The Tackle Box will serve fish tacos and po boy sandwiches with daiquiris. It is also slated to open in July.
The remaining two restaurants at The Shacks haven't been chosen yet. Billingsley says one will likely be a breakfast and coffee shop. The remaining one will be a wine bar. Or a chicken restaurant.
The restaurateurs will likely be local, Billingsley hints. "And they have to be desperate to succeed."
If The Shacks are successful, the Billingsley Co. is likely to open similar developments called The Shacks at some of its other properties in North Texas.
The project was inspired by food trucks, Billingsley says. "Everybody loves food trucks, right? But they don't love the food," she opines. She hopes The Shacks feel like food trucks — but with "speed, convenience and damn quality."
The Shacks is hosting a grand opening party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 24 at The Shacks, 5800 Windhaven Parkway in The Colony. Most restaurants will be serving food, even if they are not yet open. The dog park can be used by customers who get a free single-day pass with the purchase of food. Otherwise, memberships are available: $15 a month or $125 a year.