This year has been horrific for many local restaurants, but 2009 has been very, very good to Neighborhood Services. “I am so tired of saying no to my customers,” said Neighborhood Services owner/chef Nick Badovinus. “I will be so happy to now say yes.”
For the last 16 months, Badovinus’ 90-seat restaurant on West Lovers did not take reservations, was not permitted to open for lunch or offer outdoor seating. There was always a wait for a table. “We pissed off a lot of people with our space,” said Badovinus at 7:16 this morning. “So many customers said, ‘I love your place, dude, but I just don’t have four hours to give you to eat there.’”
First up will be Neighborhood Services Tavern which will open “by Valentine’s Day” in the space formerly known as Soley on Henderson Avenue. The lease is signed and the project has already been approved. The menu features “about 12 small plates, 12 large plates, daily and nightly specials, dips, snacks, classic cocktails, and a sub-50 [dollar] wine list.” The kitchen will be headed by Mike Williams, the opening sous chef for Neighborhood Services, who once cheffed at Craft Dallas.
Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill will open in the controversial Taco Mundo space in Preston Royal Shopping Center in late May or early June. “PR” will have all of his “yes factors”—lunch, outside dining, and loads of parking. The menu will be a casual version of Neighborhood Services. Chef Jeff Bekavac, a line cook for Badovinus at Hibiscus and currently in the kitchen at Neighborhood Services, will run “PR”.
“That leaves me with a great opportunity at Neighborhood Services and by that I mean I can really finally serve the neighborhood. It will allow us to move into a reservation-based model,” said Badovinus. “Dude, I would think this strategy was crazy if I didn’t already have 80 dishes that the customer has already approved with their pocketbooks. The risk is daunting but you have to listen to the marketplace. When your customers say grow, it sure makes it easier. I am so blessed by the support I’ve received since I opened. I’m just looking forward to being able to say yes for a change.”