Craft And Ghostbar Are Gone, But Are The Next Concepts Dead On Arrival?

Categories: Food News

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I'm not much of a Ghostbar type, but I recently visited the club at the W Hotel for a farewell party for one of our writers here at the Observer. It was a Thursday night, and we arrived at 10 p.m. (pretty early by club standards) and the bar was empty. By 11, maybe 20 customers (including my entire group) had walked through the space, and shortly after we were asked to leave. The bar was closed. Go home.

We were left to wonder what the hell was wrong with the place, but a news release I received this morning detailing numerous changes at the hotel answers the question. People quit coming. The release announced that the Ghostbar will permanently close later this month and reopen under new ownership. The change is being billed as a "natural evolution for the space," but based on the activity I saw that Thursday evening, it feels more like a defensive maneuver to stave off the bleeding.

Meanwhile Craft will soon become Cook Hall, an American gastro pub concept with a large bar, small-plates and televisions. The space will be opened up to let patrons pour out into the lobby and pricing will be "moderate to upscale." This change marks a significant departure from the concept that occupied the hotel's dining room since 2006.

I reviewed Craft last summer and over three visits never saw the dining room more than a quarter full. The small bar towards the front of the restaurant had a decent crowd during my evening visits but the dining room always felt empty -- a shame considering both the beauty of the space and the quality of chef Tim Bevins' cooking. And that's why I think there are larger problems at the W Hotel, problems that rebranding and new concepts can't fix.

While swilling whiskey Cokes at the Ghostbar, nearly all of us noted what a great space the club occupies. Thirty-three floors up, you're almost suspended above the city when you sit on their large balcony. The views are tremendous. The space is large, open and modern. Craft's dining room is a stunner too, with big sumptuous booths and generous tables. If quality cooking and spaces like these can't attract customers, I'm not sure what it would take.

The bigger problem is likely the halted Victory Park project and lack of foot traffic that hurts every business in this almost developed area. The sidewalks are dead during the evenings unless an event at the American Airlines Center draws in fans by the thousands. Compared with Deep Ellum, Henderson Avenue, the entire strand of McKinney Ave. in Uptown and the Bishop Arts District, nightlife in Victory Park is nonexistent.

A new concept may draw an initial surge of patrons who are curious to try out the latest and greatest restaurant or cocktail experience, but that would still ignore the root problem. Craft is retooling and Ghostbar is closing because the streets outside the W Hotel are a ghost town. Until that changes, any business that takes a stab in the area is going to encounter some serious challenges.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Ghostbar (Inside the W Hotel) - CLOSED

2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas, TX

Category: Music

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16 comments
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Tsnyder0307
Tsnyder0307

Scott you're spot on with that review too much fufu and not enough real time . foot traffic is a given anywhere gotta be accessible

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

I forgot to add the three zero's indeed. Yeah I think 30 bucks wouldn't have even been enough for the cover.

Travis Austin Hoopz
Travis Austin Hoopz

Upscale does not tend to breed much foot traffic anyway. This city is so saturated with luxury shopping, while the growth in areas that appeal to a broader audience (Deep Ellum's revival, Bishop Arts, the Cedars, and even Mockingbird Station) falls on deaf ears. If you instead placed moderately priced housing in the area and built it up, could be much more successful. I know we think we're rich, but damn.  Oh yeah, also all those 60 year old divorcees with all the cocaine for the 19 year old nasty club girls probably all had their scheduled heart attacks.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

There is nothing about Victory that worked well any where else

Guest
Guest

As with allot of main stream bars. Ghostbar started trending more ghetto over the last 3 years and lost its grip on the turtle creek / hi income out of townee crowd. Same thing happened to Blue before it went down.   

Ms Dove73
Ms Dove73

Parking is the issue. I work in that area, and that is the #1 complaint. And if Dallas doesn't take a hint from places like Ft. Worth (who actually seems to WANT people downtown), nothing will ever change. Maybe the prices they charge are fine when there is a Mavs game. But who would pay a quarter for every 12 minutes on the meter just to check a place out? The area is patrolled like crazy too. Everybody knows that just a few minutes over and a parking ticket is being written.

ts
ts

While I agree with your point about having a much better mix of tenants (high-end tenants will never sustain a project), I don't think pumping it full of national chains is the solution either.  One of Victory's biggest failures (re: Perot Jr's failure) was in it's tenant mix.  It was doomed to failure for that alone.  

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Ain't that the truth! Bike lanes, bars, clubs, restaurants, trails, parks, kayaking, etc., etc., etc. Is there anything that Dallas doesn't eff up?

Peacock214
Peacock214

I respectfully disagree--but I get your point.  Like most of Dallas, they were shooting for flash over substance--the slightly refined Jersey Shore crowd, if you will.  But then, that's been my experience with W Hotels as a whole.  They're far more interested in branding and marketing their perceived luxury or "upper classness" (my own term) than actually delivering.  They're places to be seen, not places to enjoy.

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

Good riddance to one of the douchiest Chris-Chris establishments in the metroplex. The Ghostbar operators were so full of themselves and riding high and mighty when it opened to much fanfare early on. But that only gets you so far. The luster wore off, and now wore out their welcome. Adios, and hopefully you 30 dollar millionaires will learn your lesson.

Mia Walters
Mia Walters

I think people definitely still walk into hotel restaurants. People walk to Dragonfly and Nobu constantly. People just don't walk in Victory Park, and if they are they're dressed to go to a game, so maybe a gastropub is the right answer.

matt
matt

will miss craft.  total shame.  love the food and the staff.  dumb dallas, but those the breaks

Beerme
Beerme

For the love of Christ, put a Starbucks, Chili's, Sherlocks, Mi Cocina or Abuelos, Joe's Crab Shack, Freebirds and a CVS with a small market in Victory Plaza. Make it a place to hang out; it's obviously not a "destination". Even the ritziest places in L.A, San Fran, Chicago, New York, are interwoven with the lower areas. Victory Plaza is antiseptic and anti-human! Idiots!

Jakep007
Jakep007

They are both sleek, modern, and pricey places that at the end of the day lacked enough of a "human" element needed to sustain themselves. Add that to the lack of pedestrian traffic and it was only a matter if time.

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