In Goodfriend and Blind Butcher, Josh Yingling and Matt Tobin Have Built Far More Than Bars

Categories: People 2014

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Can Turkyilmaz
Drinking beer in Dallas is a little more interesting lately.
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 20 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Can Turkyilmaz. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

After a decade-plus in the service industry, Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling had seen plenty of bartenders pour drinks into their forties and fifties, chain-smoking cigarettes and slugging whiskey shots until dawn. The future didn't look bright, especially for Yingling, who often upended an entire bottle of Jameson during a shift catering to other industry workers while working with Tobin at Vickery Park on Henderson Avenue. The two wanted to open up their own bar, if only to keep from being consumed.

Their Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House wasn't supposed to be much more than a beer and whiskey bar, initially. They even turned over the food preparation to neighboring taquería Good 2 Go Taco. But it quickly ballooned into something more, shaping the neighborhood that desperately needed a place where people could meet and hang out. For enthusiasts, Goodfriend quickly became a go-to spot for an incredible burger, and for Tobin, 39 and Yingling, 37, it provided a source of transformation. They were no longer bartenders, but successful business owners.

So successful, in fact, that investors lined up with money to open a second location. "We could have done another Goodfriend anywhere," Yingling says. Partners proposed locations in Richardson, Oak Cliff and Fort Worth, any of which could have been wildly successful and easy to permit, but Yingling says they wouldn't have learned anything new by stamping out a carbon copy. "And it takes away from the original," Tobin adds. Besides that, they wanted to live and work in East Dallas exclusively.

So they locked down a lease with new partners on Lower Greenville Avenue and set out to do something new, not just for themselves but for the community, too. After a recent crackdown by the city on rowdy bars and nightclubs, Lower Greenville was desperate for both some nightlife and some decent food. It took more than a year of meetings and planning, trying to convince the neighborhood and the city that they were responsible business owners -- a process Yingling likened to going 12 rounds in the ring. When it was over, Blind Butcher was born, and Lower Greenville Avenue had a new meat mecca and beer bar unlike anything else in the city.

Not to mention the jobs and even health insurance that they provide even though they're not required to. They've became more involved with their community, holding fundraisers for a friend who was involved in a motorcycle accident and an employee who wanted to go on a mission to Haiti, and working to form a neighborhood business association. Tobin and Yingling got into the bar business to keep themselves from sinking permanently into the well, but in the process of providing for themselves, they've provided for a lot of people. In trying to avoid becoming aged and crusty bartenders, they became role models for the next generation of drink pourers instead.

Location Info

Blind Butcher

1919 Greenville Avenue, Dallas / Fort Worth, TX

Category: Restaurant

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House

1154 Peavy Road, Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


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5 comments
SCamp2
SCamp2

"and beer bar unlike anything else in the city." While I agree that they have a great beer selection, that area of Greenville Ave has several other locations with craft beer - World Bottle Shop, Libertine, Dallas Beer Kitchen within 2 blocks. 

aztakemeaway
aztakemeaway

I admit this comment may be a bit misplaced.  Matt and Josh have accomplished a lot, no question.  Sounds like GF's initial success was due to blind luck, but of course it took hard work and intelligence from the owners to turn that luck into success.  That deserves a lot of admiration and respect. Though I suppose another point of this piece is to encourage lowly bartenders to climb out of that dark, seedy gutter they call a means to earn a living and finally do something important.  Or am I reading that wrong?  Anyway, I do have to say that the part of the article that says Matt and Josh decided to open BB in Lowest Greenville because the area was "desperate for both some nightlife and some decent food" must be a pretty disappointing statement to the businesses who were there working hard at transforming that neighborhood like The Libertine, Bottle Shop, Truck Yard, HG Supply, Dallas Beer Kitchen, Nora, GAPC, Old Crow and Crown and Harp.  All of whom you can throw a rock and hit from BB and all of whom were offering "decent food and nightlife" before BB arrived.  That list doesn't even count the places on the crowded Lower Greenville portion of the district just north of them.  Also, truth be told, BB hasn't done as much as lift a finger in comparison to what others have been and are doing not only for the neighborhood, but for the reborn association as well.  The real pioneers and hard workers there need their due, Scott.  I suppose that'd be a boring read though.  Believe it or not, I do like BB and the 2 main dudes behind it.  I think they are great in many ways for many reasons.  They are indeed interesting characters who deserve to be properly showcased. Too bad this article didn't do that.  Instead it mixes in half truths at others expense for some weird reason. I bet the pioneers of the street would say whether intended or not, this blog entry comes off as lazy favoritism. When it comes to Lowest Greenville there's a lot of great stories to be told, and none of them require embellishment or negative sub text. 

margiehubbard
margiehubbard

Goodfriend is just down the street from us.  We love the bar, the food, the bartenders and servers and especially Josh and Matt!

cjeffers1
cjeffers1

2 great guys who have 2 great neighborhood establishments.  


bill.holston1
bill.holston1

Proud to call Matt and Josh friends. They are a model of what small businesses can accomplish. Ask our refugee clients if they appreciated the toothpaste, soap shampoo that these businesses supplied. Great job! Oh, and the burgers and beer are outstanding. 

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