Kathleen’s Sky Diner on Lovers Lane is Closed

Kathleen's peppermint cake photographed by Kevin Marple.

I’m waiting for a phone call from owner Robert Ellington, but my sources say Kathleen’s Sky Diner is closed and the Salvation Army trucks are on the way to make a pick up. Apparently it’s an issue with the landlord.

Robert and Kathleen Ellington opened as Kathleen’s Art Cafe on Lovers Lane in 1988. It was the place to hang. Literally, for local artists. The Ellingtons created one of first spots to feature the works of local artists, all of which were for sale. The bakery next door has always been a favorite source for peppermint chocolate cake, carrot cake, and other baked treats. A few years ago, the restaurant was reconcepted and renamed Kathleen’s Sky Diner.

Hopefully Robert will call me back and I’ll have better news: Like they’ve found a new location.

UPPITY DATE: I’ve talked with some of the staff at Kathleen’s. They are very sad and disappointed. They were proud to work there, loved the food, and will miss their regular customers. Most of them worked there because it was a locally owned, close organization and they are shocked that Robert would just close the doors without notice.

39 comments on “Kathleen’s Sky Diner on Lovers Lane is Closed

  1. This is shocking. Have been going regularly since they opened after Cafe Margaux moved to Oak Lawn.

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  3. Mention Kathleen’s and the first thing that pops into my mind is their circa-1988 chocolate caked spiked with ancho chile.

  4. Sad when the employees cared more about the place and each other more than the owners ever did. Several people are out of work with no advanced notice. Kathleen’s employed many dedicated individuals and some have been there for greater than 6 years. I hope they find other work so children don’t go hungry or end up living in their cars. It is appalling that the employees were not given the courtesy of knowing that the restaurant would close because some may have been able to find other work. Doors were just locked. Management was not told until the last minute. Get the feeling there is much more to this story that the old line, “problem with the landlords”.
    Shame on you Robert and Kathleen Ellington

  5. I’m sorry, but I do not believe it was a problem with the landlord when the employees were told, through phone calls this afternoon from management, that Robert was bankrupt. Yes, people are sad and they should be, and I will miss those that I worked with and the regular customers that came in. But being one of the people that worked there until today, I can tell you that as upset as I am, I feel a sense of relief that I no longer have to wait for my money, or work in a cockroach infested restaurant, or have my tip money tampered with, pay the salaries of other employees and tip out just under half of my tips each shift. If you worked at Kathleen’s, you could expect to not get a break on shifts. You were asked to work double shifts and were made to feel like you’re useless to them if you declined. The managers called you names and cursed you out in front of customers, not to mention punished you by messing with your schedule Yes, you can say I’m upset, because this could have been handled far better.

    Also, to say he is bankrupt is quite a stretch. While he exploited (don’t suffer a work-related injury, you’re paying your own medical bills AFTER being told you can’t leave to see a doctor) and overworked people that were unable to work elsewhere due to immigration status or backgrounds, he lives a comfortable life in his mansion on a hill. The back waiters and bussers should have been salaried. Instead, we were required to hand over most of our tips to make up their pay, something that should have been his responsibility.  He made out like a bandit and is still living high on the hog at the expense of those less fortunate and stuck in bad situations in their lives that they are trying to make it through.

  6. Wow! What a fascinating look behind the business Joe Blow. I hope you are for real and not just a pissed off employee but you have me thinking differently about how this business works. Nancy, any word back?

  7. Yes there are some disgruntled employees after the piss poor way the restaurant was closed. Not very humane. Read the reviews on Yelp link.
    A waiter just recently lasted one day on the job. He was so disgusted by the roach infestation. He worked the entire shift and then before he left said that he would not return to be a server. He said that he could not work at a place that he he would not eat himself. During his shift a plate was set down on a counter and a cockroach crawled across a persons plate unknowingly. Also, during that shift there were roaches crawling on the walls and on the tables. The problem has become worse over the summer months and if the Health Department were to show up on any day the place would be condemned. It is that bad.

  8. The food was given to the Salvation Army because it was inedible. It was infested with roaches. The food was not fit to eat with the restaurant over run with vermin and roaches.

  9. I can back Joe and Leah up on the pest infestation. A friend of mine worked at the restaurant until today, and would occasionally bring by cake (which, incidentally, was made from your every day supermarket quality cake mix) and other treats for me and my family. One of of these occasions we were enjoying a slice of red velvet cake, only to find a roach INSIDE. After that, both she and I stopped eating food prepared at the restaurant. I’d be amazed if we were the only people to have this happen to us.

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  11. What will I do with hundreds of buy 1 entree get 1 free entree coupons for Kathleen’s Art Bar that I have been receiving from Value Pack mailings ?
    Tried this filthy place once. Are the health inspectors blind ?
    Just think of all the restaurants that are typically packed or where one can’t obtain a reservation for several weeks,,no coupons.

  12. I understand the rodent infestation is horrible in the whole strip center along Lovers Lane. The whole center needs to be treated, not just one restaurant. I was told the owners were vigilant about cleaning and extermination but it didn’t matter because surrounding businesses did not exterminate. No matter, cockroaches in cake is not a great combination.

  13. Nancy, Robert set a fumigation for Oct. 8-10th where the restaurant was to be shut down but removed it due to the fact that a local rotary club wanted to have a function on one of those days. The money was more important than the health and safety of the customers. That is just not good business. Robert was vigilant about cleaning though employees were not. He would come in and spray every morning leaving bug spray residue on counter tops, tables, food and glasses. He would spray so much that one employee had constant asthma attacks and had to get medical treatment for them, that he wouldn’t pay for. And come to find out, he took the employees cash tips the last day saying that he was going to put them on people’s checks. This is not the first time he’s touched employees cash tips. While people are going to believe he is a good man, and outside of this business he is, he suddenly has come across very shady and dishonest.

  14. Do other restaurants have this problem? I live down the block and visit many of these places on Lovers Lane. However, after reading these comments I may just eat at home.

  15. Where are the health inspectors from the city ??? They haven’t done their job, even though they’ve been collecting the fees from the restaurant owners.

  16. Start with this link and you can get to any University Park health inspections: http://info.uptexas.org/weblink8/Browse.aspx?startid=178295&dbid=0.

    The City of UP inspectors check about 26 items. Your ideal score is “0″ points. What I found in that area (all inspected either May or June 2012):
    Kathleens: score of 7, only one I saw to be dinged with insect contamination
    Chips: score of 3
    Drip Coffee: perfect score of 0
    Yummy Donuts: 3
    Holy Ravioli: 3
    Maudees: perfect 0
    Mango Thai: 10

    Anything west of the Tollway is in Dallas. I didn’t look those up.

  17. Pingback: Not good: Landlord lock-out at Kathleen’s Sky Diner and Art Bakery | Eats Blog

  18. First and foremost the bakery manager was dedicated to making fresh cakes and keeping that place clean! The bakery was spotless only when bakery manager was around. Certain bakery employees are going to unfortunately say negative things about the cakes and pastries that are not true and I wish them well. It’s sad to see this place shut down because good people have lost their jobs.

  19. Still wonder about the knifing incident in the kitchen that happened during a Sunday brunch after the White Rock marathon a few years back. Seeing UP paramedics and police walk into the kitchen was a bit startling to see, especially since our meal was yet to be delivered. Salsa with your huevos, anyone?

  20. What an utterly disgusting look at the restaurant and restaurant owner scene in this area….is there just NO accountability on either the owners managers or the overseers of keeping restaurants safe and clean..Not only can’t we not get along we seem to ignore just doing the right thing and blame it constantly on others..does NO ONE take responsibility seriously anymore?

  21. Kathleen’s Sky Diner–it’s been closed three days already. As one of the employees there, I still feel very shocked and very sad. Everybody was so busy there, and it has been going so well, and everybody was so busy that we were not even able to have a short conversation. I still do not know why it is suddenly closed. I love working there and I love my colleagues there because they have been so good to me and we worked together really like a team. I miss the friendly and hardworking chefs there and also the chef’s assistant whose pants I once accidentally, in my rush, threw ketchup on. And I miss my managers there who are so helpful and who are such good workers. I miss my professional colleagues there–I miss them a lot. I really, really miss them a lot! God bless them, and I really hope they can find a new position soon.

    As a waitress there I kept my work section sparkling clean (that’s one of the rules of Kathleen, too), and I checked every dish or cup I handed to my customers to make sure they were clean. The back waiter who is responsible for closing at the end of the shift, willl clean every corner of his section and make sure that all the food materials are completely covered with clean thin cellophane wrap which the manager always checks and rechecks.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that Kathleen’s is a very clean and friendly place to work with hardworking and caring people and so I hope that the speculation about Robert having a disagreement with the landlord is true and that he can find a new location and start up this really good restarurant again soon. God bless him!

  22. The last couple of times I was there over the last two years, it was disappointing. In 98-99, I lived 3 blocks away, and I ate there about 3 times a month. It was fabulous then. The food and service had been going downhill over the last 4 years, particularly ever since it became the “Skydiner” (whatever THAT meant). Still, sorry to see another Dallas icon bite the dust, and more people out of work.

  23. I loved their breakfast pasta for Brunch..my fave. Anyone know where I could find the recipe? I would like to see if I can make it at home. The crab cakes were also awesome.. They will be missed.

  24. Sorry to read about the closing. I never understood why they constantly “couponed”. I’m in the restaurant business and would like to meet with any and all displaced employees. I’d like to help you if possible. Please email me. I have a limited need but still a need that could benefit you. davidrknouse@aol.com

  25. I think it’s really nice for former employees to come on here and talk about how disgusting the place was and how corrupt the owner was. If I were a customer and you knowingly served me contaminated food I would blame you more than the owner. If you had any decency of your own you would have reported such conditions to someone who could have done something about it rather than turn a blind eye day in and day out. What a whole lot of good you’re doing telling everyone now that the place is closed.

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  27. Kenneth,
    The employees did bring it to the managements and owners attention. That was the appropriate thing to do. There was scheduled professional pest control but it was not sufficient to to get it under control. This situation happened over a very rapid period of time. The employees ate there as well as the customers. We knew that Robert was taking care of the situation the best way that he could. Robert Ellington is not to blame and he is an honorable person.