In March, Mike Micallef, president of Reata Restaurant, announced that he was looking into alternative locations for his popular downtown restaurant after his landlords Sundance Square Management seemed reluctant to offer a lease extension.
Micallef said this week that nothing has changed in the lease renewal status. Radio silence on this front. Micallef said he has a few places he’s starting to focus on and has set a schedule for the next two to three months to make a decision.
He gave no real hints as to where it might be, but it is believed that all roads lead to the city center, because all roads lead to the city center, where the restaurant has built its brand and loyal fans. In addition, the city center is a proven business model based on the constant traffic of conference participants, approximately 3,500 hotel rooms and thousands of apartments within walking distance. Plus a network of highways and lanes that offer convenient entry and exit routes.
All this is the speculation of one writer.
Micallef said moving out of the city center is still an option, although moving to, say, a more suburban geography would definitely be a different kind of business.
“I don’t think there are bad places,” Micallef said. At the heart of the decision is “what is the best place to recreate this experience, because, unlike many restaurants, we are not in a formulaic business. I think the guys who created them are brilliant.
“But no one here will say that you need to create a restaurant that does as much as we do in the catering and private dining industry. And then three weeks later in January, we open three more restaurants at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. We have to figure out how to make it work. It’s some kind of monster. But all this made us who we are. This is a good thing.”
He said he had discussions with architects and project developers in the city center, but some of those options didn’t work because the timing didn’t fit.
Reata’s lease expires in 2024.
“I think we have a great brand,” he said. “I think wherever we go, people will follow us. I know I can’t make everyone happy with the location decision.
“I think we should make the best decision for us in the long run.”
Many Reata customers have ideas too. When Micallef said two and a half months ago that he would start exploring his options, he created a web-based platform to communicate with the masses.
They were not shy. Among them: actor Barry Corbin, who intervened. “Here next to me would be perfect,” wrote Corbin.
“It’s nice to think that people like that actually think of you,” Micallef said of Corbin, a well-known Hollywood western character actor who lives nearby.
“Some were very specific,” Micallef said. “I want a terrace, a sunset view and an outdoor patio.” Very, very specific.” Many had sentimental feelings about the city center. Others wanted to make sure the roof element was not lost.
“People love the roof, but people also love Joe T’s patio,” he said. “We have to figure out what elements we can add to make [a new location] unique.”
Micallef said he received more than 570 responses and recommendations from the crowds of people who flocked to his restaurant, formerly in the old Bank One Tower and its current location at 310 Houston Street. He moved each of them into Excel. sheet and group them by location.
Alliance, Argyle, Arlington, Bridgeport, Burleson, Camp Bowie, Cleburne, Clearfork, Denton, around Dickies Arena, Downtown, West Seventh Corridor, Frisco, Grapevine, Justin, Keller.
Only 170 from Mansfield.
“They had a whole campaign for Mansfield,” he said.
Mineral Wells, northern Fort Worth, Northlake, Parker County (and others listed are Walsh Ranch and Willow Park), Rendon, Southlake, and Westlake.
“There are a lot of places that could be a good place for a restaurant, but it probably isn’t the home for this restaurant,” he said.
In Fort Worth, Micallef received several votes for a historic public market building that will soon be refurbished to become a residential community for the elderly. Others have proposed a site on the future Panther Island, which is still more of a vision than a development. He won’t be ready in time.
Others asked about the location of the old restaurant on the hill on Interstate 30 next to the former KXAS home on Broadcast Hill. He went through several incarnations, but his view of the city center has always been his advantage.
The former barnyard spaghetti warehouse was another showcase.
“A large number of people have mentioned the Middle Southside,” he said. “I definitely think he is growing. In five years, although you’ll have to cross I-30 somehow, I think it’s a really exciting area because of the convention center and Texas A&M, which are building a multi-block neighborhood in the south of the city.
One of the sweetest for Micallef was from Ponder, who had an ambassador speaking on behalf of a city of nearly 2,400 but in a booming part of North Texas. The town has a proud restaurant history with Ranchman’s Café, better known for decades as Ponder Steakhouse. It has been temporarily closed for a while, the impact of the pandemic is apparently still being felt.
“One of the funniest things for me was getting an email from the Ponder Police Chief,” Micallef said. “Like you, I ate at Ponder Steakhouse when I was little. I haven’t been there for a long time, although if you look at the residential development around, it continues to grow. Getting an email from the police chief of Ponder, Texas is hard to beat.”
In an email to Fort Worth Magazinechef Robert Jenova said that Reata would be the perfect edition for his community.
“I described how we used to be a popular place for lunch; our western heritage, the area is home to working cowboys and farmers; we are close to I-35, and close to Texas Motor Speedway. We are a growing community but still stick to our Western heritage. We would really like them to come to Ponder.”