Tag Archives: A more pleasant Denton

Dentoning….Culinary Internationalization

As I told my brother the other day, Denton changes every day. And it always changes for the better! Denton has always had a great selection of restaurants, but it just scored big in the international catagory with the opening of Viet Bites. This new Vietnamese restaurant opened a few months ago at 702 S. Elm Street in the old Tom and Joe’s building. Gone are the old jukebox equipped booths and smoke patinaed walls. The old building that so many Dentonites remember from back in the day, now has a bright, clean, modern look. And the food…..

Viet Bites

Viet Bites

The food is a style from central Viet Nam, specifically the town of Dalat, from where the owners of Viet Bites, James and Victoria Trinh, hail. After leaving Viet Nam, the Trinh’s settled in Houston (I didn’t ask why, but expressed my condolences). Recently, the couple decided to open a restaurant to showcase their love of cooking , and the cuisine of their home country. James quit his corporate job and their first thought was to relocate to Dallas. Denton relatives encouraged them to check out Denton also, they did, fell in love with our great town and WE won over Dallas! The food at Denton’s newest restaurant is fresh, fast and financially frugal.They start things out with a bowl of rice chips which is a nice change from the corn chips of our ever-present Tex-Mex fare. Viet Bites boasts egg/spring rolls, pho (pronounced “fuh” not FO), noodle bowls, sandwiches and rice entrees. The Crème Brûlée is the best in Denton…..no Texas, ….. no, the best I’ve ever had.

International food

Appetizer at Viet Bites

Viet Bites is a refreshing new addition to the dining scene of Denton. The owners are extremely nice and extremely happy to now live in our great city. The servers are very attentive and the food incredible! My sons and I eat Vietnamese food whenever given the chance. When my youngest, Connor, was just learning to speak, he inevitably said “Bee Bee Bees!!!” (“Vietnamese” in young Connor-speak”) when asked where he wanted to eat out.

Connor, we now have a great Bee Bee Bees place right here in Denton!!!

Dentoning….We Do of Walnut Street

The idea isn’t new. Improving Walnut Street (the street behind Ever’s Hardware on the Square) has been discussed, planned and mapped for years. What IS new is a potential way to get it done. There’s a reason it’s lain fallow for years, I’m not sure exactly what that reason is, but I’m thinking it probably has something to do with money. But, there are ways to minimize that…….

Half block south of square

Walnut St. looking East

Walnut St. stretches between Locust St. and Elm St. just behind the south side of the Square. It’s really more of an alley than a street, and with the hodge podge of dumpsters, transformer boxes, trash and filth, looks more like parts of New York City than Denton, Texas. I wouldn’t call it blighted, but I almost would. There is definitely room for improvement.

South of Denton Square

Walnut St/Alley looking West

I discussed this idea in an earlier blog, but recently many of the business owners on that side of the Square and from other areas nearby, met to talk about and judge interest in, the concept of closing Walnut St. to create a pedestrian-only park-like plaza. There are different ideas as to what the final plan would look like, but this was simply a meeting to get the pulse of those whose businesses would be impacted. At the end of the meeting, with a show of hands, there was a unanimous vote of YES.

Closing off a street that has been around for 100+ years doesn’t happen over night and without obstacles to overcome. But everyone at that meeting decided is was a plan worth pursuing. A suggestion was made to have 2-3 special events, closing off the street for “trial runs”. Other cities around the world have made such changes, so there ARE ways to get around the obstacles. This concept would require disruptive thinking and planning on the part of the business owners, property owners, the community and the City. There are ways around almost anything and if we as the Denton Community say we want it, it can happen.

For the most part, I think the RE DO of Walnut St. can become a WE DO of Walnut Street. In the earlier blog about this subject, I mentioned crowd sourcing, where materials, ideas and labor would be volunteered and a couple of days of community work, frivolity, and TRUE dentoning could change the…….OK, blighted alley …….of Walnut St. into a shady, grassy, tree-lined pedestrian area with benches, restaurant patios, play areas for the kids, flower boxes, street artists and buskers.

Would you rather have this?:

Walnut St.

Walnut St.

Or this?:

Plans

Example of ped area

Just think, in addition to the grassy lawn of our courthouse Square, we would then have a pleasant, shady oasis to stroll, sit, shop and loiter and just a half block off our town center. There are, of course, questions about the loss of parking, relocation of dumpsters, how grease traps would be serviced and how deliveries would be made. This is where the disruptive thinking comes in. Just because it hasn’t been done in Denton does not mean it CAN’T be done in Denton. Denton has all the talent and expertise needed to visualize, plan, and implement the project, and to overcome any NOs that are encountered.

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Examples of what could be……

There are already plans in the works for a more centralized way for deliveries to be made around the Square. Several ideas were also batted around at the meeting which could potentially address trash collection, service of grease traps and other potential stumbling blocks that came to mind. This is merely the idea phase of the WE DO of Walnut St. All of this would take input from the businesses, the City and us……..the citizens of Denton. SO…….what do you think? Would you be willing to offer ideas, volunteer to work, volunteer materials,……make this happen? The business owners would foot the bill for the expenses directly related to their operations, but the fun part would be up to us!

For now, please let me know what you think of this “urban renewal” project., and send any ideas, pros/cons, whatever to:

dentoning@gmail.com

If we want it, it will happen………or something like that.

Enjoy Denton!