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The Reopening of the Green Room in Dallas: Let’s Discuss

Room?
…..Room

Once upon a time in a faraway land, I fell in love. Truly, madly, deeply in love with a boy. I think of my first love often, especially when I hear Dionne Warwick sing “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” For me, he will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Green Room also holds a special place in my heart/stomach. The restaurant was a sexy loveable place that ran on spontaneity and free spirit. Each meal I shared with family, friends, and lovers at the Green Room was magical. The Green Room was stocked with talented, risk-taking people. The cutting edge cuisine was created on the fly. Customers entered the grungy-from-the-outside spot with low expectations and emerged like religious converts. I can’t think of another restaurant in Dallas that gripped the souls of Dallas diners like the Green Room did.

Yesterday when the Teegster reported that the Green Room and Club Dada were reopening, the news opened a flow of happiness from diners who were baptized in the foodie temple. Don’t get me wrong—I hope the upcoming incarnation is a success, but I have to ask the question: Can you go home? Warwick asks/sings, “A fool will lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday.”

The expectations of former Green Room customers will be over-the-top.  Even though much of the old staff has been assembled, there is one grim reality—it is 2009. “Green” has a whole new meaning. The once innovative prix fixe Feed-Me-Wine-Me program is now done all over town in one way, shape, or form. The challenge for the new Green Room may be to put the romantic past behind and come up with a new formula for success. It will be an interesting project. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

36 comments on “The Reopening of the Green Room in Dallas: Let’s Discuss

  1. Ummm, can they include a less-expensive-than-Nana approach to upscale vegan cuisine in their menu development? I mean, I’d be happy with one teeny tiny old corner of the menu if they’re serious about being innovative in 2009.

    And, if you’re reading, Mr. Bombaci, I’ll still make a trek to see you and your fine cuisine. But it’s a recession, you know?

  2. several points:
    1. agreed it will not live up to memories of the former Green Room (things always a better in our memory). They owuld do themselves well to alter the look dramatically to differentiate themselves from the earlier version.
    2. Where are they doing feed me wine me (at reasonable cost) in Dallas?
    3. Hope the old team comes with new experience and ideas.

    Please keep those prices down boys…and I’ll be a loyal customer once again.

  3. The key thing is whether Marc Cassel returns as Executive Chef. If so, this bid gets instant credibility. Without him this must be viewed as an attempt to capitalize on the “brand name capital” of The Green Room. Approach the initiative as a fake for now, with the onus firmly on them to prove that wrong.

  4. But WG, Mr. Cassel already has a kitchen to himself in this town. And it’s pretty good, but not blowing me away.

  5. Marc Cassel does not walk on water. There are plenty of more talented chefs in Dallas.

  6. As long as we’re dreaming here; I’d love to see a guy like David Uygur land at the Green Room. Lola was more refined than the Green Room; but Chef Uygur showed a ton of creativity there that could be more open-ended at a place like the Green Room.

    This will be a classic chicken-or-egg test. Will good venues like The Green Room and Club Dada of yesteryear revive Deep Ellum? Or, does Deep Ellum need to prove its viable again to become a successful location for places like The Green Room and Club Dada to once again flourish?

    My take is that this renaissance is unlikely to work (although I hope that I’m wrong). My wife and I love the Angry Dog, Twisted Root and Cowboy Chow; but we infrequently make it down there because we’re consistently made to feel uncomfortable by panhandlers and parking is overpriced & inconvenient.

    Years ago, Deep Ellum was great because it was a destination where you could spend an entire night as you ate dinner at the Green Room, caught some tunes at Trees or Dada, went dancing at the Blind Lemon, chilled on The Bone rooftop, and got a early morning snack for the ride home at Cafe Brazil. Today, there is just not the selection to make it a destination for people who don’t live there; and paradoxically the lack of a crowd makes it feel like a less safe place to be.

  7. Boiler is right. Deep Ellum has changed drastically over the years…

    We still make it down there during the day to eat at Pepe y Mito’s or one of the other places he mentioned. It’s not quite like it used to be.

    I’m not quite like I used to be, either!

  8. I, for one, will look forward to what Chef Mike Smith, whose cuisine at 2900 I enjoyed heartily, does at the re-opened GR.

    I agree with NN. It is 2009 now and will be 2010 by the time the place opens. I think the GR will do well to not try so hard to re-create a memory that was a little different for each person and fuzzy by now for all.

    There’s always room for another great restaurant. Let’s just try to be THAT.

  9. The way I see it, these guys are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    When they open Green Room, I doubt they’ll meet anyone’s lofty expectations. Where’s Cassel’s mussels (Henderson Ave) and where’s Whit’s wine program (Virtuoso)?

    On the other hand, if they renovated the spot, cooked up a new name and concept (pun intended), they’d suffer the same fate as most people who have tried and failed in Deep Ellum the last few years: how do we get people to brave the trek to Deep Ellum?

    Sidenotes:

    Brad – how is Nana any more expensive than Capitol Grille, Bob’s, Del’s, Nick & Sams, Ocean Prime, Bailey’s Prime, Prime’s Prime, Prime Time, and SuperPrimeTime Steak and Chopington? Nana is no more expensive than a $40 Cowboy Cut and a $9 Creamed Spinach? Why are hate on Nana…a restaurant with class, superior service and a talented chef that knows how to do more than find a perfect medium rare? Oh…vegan food. Gay.

    Boiler – panhandlers are a fixture in Deep Ellum. They were there before you or I were born. And how is parking any less convenient now that it’s virtually vacant? The times I’ve headed down to Adair’s, Twisted Root, St. Pete’s, etc I’ve landed VIP curbside parking.

    Good luck Zenon and the gang!

  10. Any word on if the Wood brothers or Whit Meyers are going to be involved…Whit’s wine savy and progressive restaurant programs seem to have been overlooked in the equation. Even if Chef MC isn’t in the picture with new talent in the kitchen and Brandt, Brady and Whit the formula could easily be a triumph!

    @JI I agree about Nana, There are so many restaurants that are easily as expensive, if anything I think Bombaci should be praised for being so gracious towards those of us who are less inclined to eat meats(though “gay” is a little much and quite offensive LOL).

  11. Sorry…I had bone marrow at Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa tonight for dinner. Bone Marrow always makes me ornery.

  12. I know it won’t be the same but I’ll be there as soon as it opens. My all-time favorite restaurant, the combination of high/low food, service, ambience worked perfectly.

  13. Cellarmaster:
    As of yesterday, neither “The Woods” or Whit Meyers were involved in the restaurant or club. Marc Cassel is at Park and, the last I heard, original chef Chris Pyun (we miss you, Chris) was working a private gig in Long Island. At the moment, Taylor Allday (an original investor), and Zenon Oprysk (former GM of Trees and Gypsy Tea Room) are involved. The landlords have changed. Pyun’s sous chef Mike Smith and Cassel’s sous chef James Pitzer will be in the kitchen.

  14. @Cellarmaster & JI,

    I was referring to the vegan menu at Nana. About 100% of the other restaurants you listed don’t have a specific vegan menu – Nana does (thus my mentioning them). Bombaci has developed a first class vegan tasting menu as part of their daily offerings – something I applaud (loudly).

    The problem is that it’s around $150 with wine pairings (and before tip, pre-dinner cocktails, etc). Great for a once a month treat, but a new venue for the average Friday night would be wonderful.

    I wasn’t intending to “hate” on Nana (I love Nana and Bombaci is my default favorite chef in Dallas). What I meant to say is that there’s no competition for that niche right now and if I get to make a suggestion for another forward thinking restaurant, my suggestion would simply be to do a less expensive (and likely less expansive) vegan offering with the prix fixe options.

    Now in the response to the “gay” remark, I’ll have to quote the greatness of Michael McKean in Clue: “I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife.”

    @JI: I’ve been looking for a nemesis for Ticket Fight Night next year. I think a vegan vs. carnivore fight would definitely make the cut…

  15. They said: “”The restaurant went out with such good will, there’s no reason why that couldn’t be the spark that sets off a revival in the neighborhood,” he says. “The cut-off fatigue shorts and black converse sneakers, those days of Deep Ellum are gone. The neighborhood is ready to mature a bit, and we’re going to try to have a hand in that. We’ll renovate the deck, make it more weather friendly. But we’d like to bring back what we think is one of the coolest things, that at the Green Room, you got a certain level of food or service but were charged one or two notches lower.””

    Nowhere do the new owners say they are trying to recreate anything of the former Green Room, except for the price point-food value ratio. Nowhere.

    So anybody that is lamenting that they won’t be able to fill the old shoes, or it won’t be the same without Cassel, or they can hardly wait ’cause it was their FAV place, should take a chill pill and lie down till it opens. Then decide.

    Until then, it’s just much ado about nothing.

  16. Re: Brad
    Vegan is not a niche, it’s a micro micro niche and the small percentage of cutomers who are vegans are never enough to warrant a
    section of a menu. I think most chefs should be able to accomodate a vegan diet without being put out or lacking in creativity. I think when you choose a vegan diet you should expect to have less options, after all that is your choice.

  17. At it’s height, what % of their revenue was from the bar crowd (not the people dining there)? Their bar revenue is going to be tiny compared to what it once was. That place was packed every Friday and Saturday night until 2 am, I just don’t see that happening this time. Maybe it’s a small number, I have no idea as I never dined there, only drank.

  18. Does anyone here like Local? ‘Cause Local is just barely hobbling along right now. Whether you blame that on the economy, crime, parking, or the deadness of the neighborhood, it’s not a good sign for an almost-fine-dining restaurant opening in Deep Ellum. It’s also hard to imagine that the Green Room won’t siphon off some business from Local. This won’t be pretty.

  19. Ed: Love Local. Their problem is, it isn’t. The incipient urban colonization I was shown on a 1999 Dallas Histerical Society Coach Tour passed Deep Ellum by. The City killed the area with its no-parking policy designed to promote the Arts District. So they have no locals for Local. Now would be a good time for them to move up the road to Lakewood, or elsewhere.

  20. @Ed: creating additional quality dining experiences in Deep Ellum may help lift all ships. Leaving Local as an island does it no good. Happy to hear that the “brand” is back and hopeful that I will be able to taste/toast success. Cheers!

  21. Not to divert here, but I really wanted to love Local. Ultimately, I just am not a fan. Food is interesting but always seems to lack something in the execution. Also, for the experience it is expensive. I think Nonna does “Local” better than Local.

  22. Trying to duplicate the old green room is indeed damned if you do/damned if you don’t. But please bring back the creamy pepper soup! And I’m hoping Mike brings that foie gras with black eyed peas from 2900…yum.

  23. I believe it’s time for The Green Room to return. It may not be the same as it was before—it could be even better. Give it a chance people! Hopefully it will help revitalize a long forgotten important part of Dallas and the history of the neighborhood. Thank goodness the former owners are not involved–it may just have a chance to be a successful restaurant. I’m looking forward to the opening and will be sure to be a regular there again. What made the former chef such a great chef was his strong support staff. With a team like Smith/Pitzer in the kitchen and a savvy owner….I think we are finally seeing this neighborhood come back to life. Kudos to Twisted Root etc.. for hanging in there!

  24. Bitter party of one Norma/Mona? Those former owners happily signed your paycheck for a dozen years, thank God enthusiastic people will be involved. You should remain selling (out) with corporate HOBlues

  25. Wow—nice to hear from you. I’m happy the folks that are involved in the new Green Room are the ones opening the venue. Green Room had a great run and I’m proud to have been employed by that company for many years. Just hated to see it end the way it did. The former owners admitted their wrong decisions in the end and yes I did receive signed paychecks from the owners and thankfully mine checks actually cleared. I was prepared to go down with the ship but have a family to consider and felt the need to leave along with a lot of other folks.

    I don’t feel like I’m a sell out working at House of Blues. I’m happy to have a job and happy to work in the live music industry again.

    Thank you for your bitterness. I can take it–your turn now.

  26. In the seven plus year my wife and I ate at the Green Room, we always knew Taylor Hoey as the GM. Correct me if I am wrong but I have never heard of Zenon Oprysk. He must have been later for them. We then followed Mike Smith to 2900, Gareth Dickie and Taylor Hoey to Hibiscus, Marc Cassel to Park and least we forget my wife and I’s favorite server in Dallas, Matt Dean! Dean currently resides at the Grape where we try to visit him at least twice a month. People like prior listed were what made the Green Room in our opinion. Good Luck!

  27. In the seven plus year my wife and I ate at the Green Room, we always knew Taylor Hoey as the GM. Correct me if I am wrong but I have never heard of Zenon Oprysk. He must have been later for them. We then followed Mike Smith to 2900, Gareth ****ie and Taylor Hoey to Hibiscus, Marc Cassel to Park and least we forget my wife and I’s favorite server in Dallas, Matt Dean! Dean currently resides at the Grape where we try to visit him at least twice a month. People like prior listed were what made the Green Room in our opinion. Good Luck!

  28. FYI: Zenon was part of the original team Green Room when it opened in ’94. He was bar manager for a long time, general manager for a while then moved to Trees and Gypsy Tea Room as their GM. Matt Dean is great as are all the folks you mentioned. I think everyone is looking forward to the new generation of Green Room–I know I sure am.

  29. Who cares about parking? I think I’ve heard something about green having a whole new meaning now, and I’m looking forward to taking the train to (and from) the Green Room/Dada.

  30. Awe while I worked at the Green Room only for a year as a Pastry Chef I loved it truly and the hard work it required. To tell the honest truth it was my first job ever and it taught me how to work hard even though the bank account was not always in the best position. Sure I went shopping with my paychecks a lot when I wasn’t working cause I had no rent or bills to pay but the time I spent working in the Green Room was the most important time. I left before it closed to follow other career pursuits but one thing they taught me was how to enjoy food beyond the drive-thru and mamas casseroles. Good luck to the new day that the Green Room will see I certainly will show up for dinner, Feed Me!