As The Green Room Revamps, We Wonder:
Can Deep Ellum Support Fine Dining?

Categories: Food News

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There's no shortage of good food in Deep Ellum, but does The Green Room's extended vacation mean fine-dining restaurants can't make it there?

The Green Room hasn't gone out of business yet, although circumstances surrounding its unannounced closure were sufficiently suspicious to excite the blogosphere yesterday. After Sidedish's Nancy Nichols reported the restaurant had closed, The Green Room took to Facebook to announce plans to "reopen Tuesday, January 18th, with a new menu and new wine list for the new year."

An outgoing voicemail message was updated with the same information, but so far nobody's saying why the restaurant decided to sit out New Year's Eve, how the menu will change or whether Joel Harloff's hanging on to the head chef position, and neighboring restaurants owners wonder if the January 18 date is realistic. Food gossips love this sort of thing.

But what does the situation mean for Deep Ellum? Unlike its trendy crosstown counterpart, Oak Cliff, the neighborhood hasn't incubated many ambitious, high-end dining spots (although the lone exception, Local, is lovely.)

Jay Jerrier, who's planning to open Il Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum next month, thinks The Green Room's problems weren't entirely geographic.

"I don't think expensive restaurants do well anywhere," Jerrier says. "People want good food, but they don't want premium prices."

Jerrier recently worked as a consultant for Brackets, the new sports bar in the former Trader Vic's. The menu there includes a $26 cowboy rib-eye, a $25 lobster ravioli and a $23 filet. According to Jerrier, those plates aren't selling.

"It's a good menu, but nobody orders from it," Jerrier says. "People are ordering burgers and pizza."

Jerrier doesn't know whether the recent embrace of down-market food reflects depleted bank accounts or a fatigue induced by too many years of high-cotton eating: "I've had a $200 gift certificate to The Mansion for three years, and I don't have the energy to use it," he says. But he agrees the situation may be slightly direr in Deep Ellum.

"You have the mix of lawyers from the west side of the highway and doctors from Baylor. I think people have an expectation of a quick lunch," he says. "After concerts, I don't think they're looking for a $30 entrée."

But Jerrier thinks a few restaurateurs could make a high-priced concept work on Elm Street.

"If I decided to screw Il Cane Rosso, do white tablecloth, I don't know," he says. "But if Nick Badovinus opened another Neighborhood Services down here, I bet it would do pretty well."


Location Info

The Green Room

2715 Elm St., Dallas, TX

Category: Music


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21 comments
holman
holman

Try the Anvil Bar's macaroni and cheese. I kid you not - it's gourmet (ha!). Penne pasta and a white cheese that definitely fills a hole.

matt
matt

cant compare a retread like the re-opened green room to something like local. different stratospheres. local has made it's mark.

hope they figure it out, but the re-open was gimmicky in my mind at best.

loki965
loki965

I'm sorry, but the new Green Room didn't impress when I visited. It's interior vibe was the same, I guess, and the upstairs deck was beautiful, but the food didn't fit the pricing. Aside from some great flavors in the mussels, the overall impression I came away with was "OK", not great. And if you're going to draw people to spend real money on food in Deep Ellum, it better be "Wow". Especially when you're following a class act like Marc Cassel.

David_in_Dallas
David_in_Dallas

The group that organized the Taste of Greenville Avenue events sent an email out early this week about trying to organize a Taste of Deep Ellum event, but with a different vibe.

Their website is www.tasteofdeepellum.com, but it's just a homepage and email link.

Larry L Johnson Jr
Larry L Johnson Jr

I think two things are going on here. First, it's been pretty well documented that as the economy takes a downturn burger sales go up. The other thing is related to his comment, about cowboy ribeye, lobster ravioli and filet not selling. Really? There are so many places in Dallas doing those things well, why would I take a chance at another place on something in that price point? I understand putting a steak on the menu because some people are going to come in and want a steak. But, what can you do well in that price point that no one else is doing well? What's going to draw people to your restaurant? If I'm a northern burbanite, why would I drive to Deep Ellum for a steak when I can go to Bob's in Plano?

Mike
Mike

Price doesn't matter if you provide a quality experience. Re-opening an old institution named the Green Room but having crappy food and service won't cut it, however.

runDMC
runDMC

The defining momentum for a new venue is whether they want to stay where they grew up or move away as soon as they get the chance.In almost all cases no one stays in Deep Ellum.They all grow up and fly away which tells you that even when you are making money it may not be enough to endure a difficult environment.Local is on the quiet edge of DE and Green Room had an uber chic cache (no longer) so they stayed and thrived but no other fine dining has done so. East Wind, Standard, Sambuca, Deep Ellum Cafe, amongst others all bailed.I'm happy for Cane Rosso and I do like Cowboy Chow and Twisted Root and Angry Dog but they aren't fine dining and don't try to be. It will take many more Chow's and Rosso's before a tipping point can be reached. A nice boost would be better zoning to edge out the riffraff and gentrify the area.Love the thought of Deep Ellum dining, hate the reality.

holman
holman

The Baylor Hospital complex is within walking distance and Cowboy Chow et al has proved expensive lunches will pull the 130k daytime workers from downtown. White tablecloth, fine dining at night remains a tough nut to crack, but it's doable. The idea of Deep Ellum is still a bit incongruous with the required atmosphere, as well as the lingering perceived thug quotient. But the threshold is near. You just have to knock the socks off the patrons with the right product that extends the market penetration and defines fine dining in Deep Ellum . . . as an adventure, an act of coolness. And it starts with little hole-in-the-wall 10 table tops offering up blisteringly excellent dishes and great service from up and comer chefs out to make a statement.

cp
cp

"I don't think expensive restaurants do well anywhere," Jerrier says. "People want good food, but they don't want premium prices."

Really? Bob Sambol has managed to do quite well with his steak and chophouse, and for 16 years now.

brett
brett

Lemongrass just a few doors down is really good too!

Jjerrier
Jjerrier

I don't know how I always sound so douchey in these articles. I'm hardly an expert on fine dining...I make pizza! I hope Green Room does reopen and that people from "the north" will give the neighborhood a chance. We had lots of people pronouncing Cane Rosso DOA when we said we were going to Deep Ellum - but it's been a supportive community with Landlords that seem to want to attract interesting tenants. Fingers crossed!

Beda
Beda

Excuse me, Jay. I was just so full of energy when I posted that.

Beda
Beda

I've got the energy to use your gift certificate, Jerry!!

G_David
G_David

I don't make near 130k and I go to Cowboy Chow all the time. It doesn't seem expensive at all. In fact, it's downright reasonable.

cp
cp

My point is that, it IS possible to open a successful fine-dining restaurant and keep people coming in the doors for years and years in Dallas.

Nick
Nick

Actually Bob Sambol had to declare bankruptcy a couple of years back... soooo....

holman
holman

I was speaking of the 130,000 downtown daytime work crowd as a target market. Cowboy Chow is classified as Fast Casual. It's average ticket is a bit higher than what's found in this category.

Jjerrier
Jjerrier

When Hanna and I spoke, we actually talked about steakhouses still doing really well - though I do get lots of "coupons" for some of the second tier ones in Dallas...not Bob's of course. The steakhouse stuff didn't make the article.

cp
cp

Because of the debt on the shuttered Denver store. That didn't have anything to do with the success or perceived failure of Bob's. Bob's is doing quite well.

cp
cp

Businesses declare bankruptcy all the time to avoid debt. Doesn't necessarily mean they are failing or have failed, or are in jeopardy of failing.

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