Tag Archives: Denton Square

Barley and Board

Barley and Board bestows beautiful balance…..

I’m not going to be that restaurant-review guy, but occasionally a place comes along which warrants an assessment (and brings the Dentoning blog out of hibernation). Some places make a disruptive entrance over what Denton has been accustomed to. LSA, Oak Street Draught House and Mellow Mushroom come to mind.

All these places stretched the status quo of the time and have become part of the fabric of Denton.

Barley and Board is just such an establishment. Barley and Board (BnB) was birthed from the same folks who brought us LSA. Sparky Pearson, Steve Watkins, Earl Herrington, and newcomers, actor Jason Lee and Eric Pulido of the world-renown Denton band, Midlake, have intertwined their various talents to bring to Denton a restaurant sure to become a city favorite.

Barley and Board is located on the ground floor of the historic Texas Building on the northeast corner of our unique Square. Combining the space once occupied by two restaurants, Barley and Board has taken the east side of the building’s ground floor back to its original base. The brick walls, brick ceilings, ancient concrete floors and battered concrete pillars all serve to celebrate old Denton. The addition of complementing newness presents a tribute to what Denton has become.

Barley and Board

There is a reason Denton continues to make local, regional, State, National and International Top Ten lists. Barley and Board will only add to that collective reason and will probably soon be on one of its own.

BnB is a symphony of visual delights. There is that…..but, the FOOD!

The menu is something new to Denton. Pork tenderloin, quail, steak, bone marrow, chicken, babyback ribs and much more are all prepared in ways more reminiscent of New York City than our small ville. Chef Chad Kelly works magic in the kitchen. Everything I have tried is superb, everything I haven’t tried has been proclaimed superb by others I trust. The prices are tame for a place this cool.

Barley and Board

The perfect marriage of all things Denton.

The bar recalls what you’d imagine in the hotels of Denton past, with a modern flair. The restaurant also includes something completely new to Denton. We have local breweries Armadillo Ale Works and Audacity Brew House, but BnB will be brewing its own…..just for the restaurant. It’s more of a pico-brewery than a micro-brewery, with the ability to make 30 gallon batches with each brew. House brewmaster Derrick Rima, will create beer to be served exclusively in BnB.

Barley and Board

A first anniversary beer has already been brewed and is aging to be tapped a year from now. The brew facility will also be loaned to local home brewers on a regular basis, bringing truly original beers to Denton.

Barley and Board

The ambience, the service (some of the cream of the crop of the Denton service industry has been harvested for the venture), the space, the location and the FOOD of Barley and Board will make this an instant anchor in the target-rich restaurant environment of downtown Denton.

Denton continues to grow in coolness……..

Barley and Board opens to the public Wednesday night, August 12th.

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!

Dentoning….The Square

There is a restaurant in the courtyard of the Pentagon called “Ground Zero” ….gallows humor from the Cold War with Russia, yet named way before the atrocity of Sept. 11. Well, without the negative connotation, the Denton County Courthouse and surrounding Square is our Ground Zero. It always has been, but becomes more so each day as businesses, and more recently, residences, gravitate toward it. During the early years of Denton history, most business was either on the Square or within very close proximity to it. There really were no subdivisions then and most Dentonites lived within several blocks of the Square. The seeds of Dentoning were first planted on the courthouse lawn.

My maternal family has lived in Denton since the late ’30s. During WWII, my grandfather worked on the Square as a pharmacist at Tobin Drugs and my grandparents, mother and Aunt Helen lived on Panhandle St. My mother has many stories of she and my aunt blazing an early trail for what would become Dentoning. They used to park their bikes behind what is now J & J’s Pizza (then Tobin’s) and venture into the Square for a movie, a malted or maniacal maliciousness…….no wait, that wasn’t them. My dear grandmother was a buyer for the Boston Store in what is now Recycled Books, the gaudy, purple building on the northeast corner of the Square. Their pet, my great-grand-dog Boots, was a veteran of WWII………kind of. He was enlisted, and would have bravely represented Denton, but evidently could not be all he could be, and was returned, unused in battle. I never served in the military, but I am proud of members of my family who have. My uncle fought in the Battle of the Bulge, my cousin Matt retired from the army and then Boots…….well, Boots tried. I have deep roots in Denton, and love my hometown…..

Courthouse of Denton Countyi

We are very fortunate have one of the coolest Courthouses in Texas. It was built in 1896, and has served as Denton’s center ever since. Surrounding businesses have come and gone, but the courthouse is as it was the day it opened. Our Square is ripe with rumors, legend and hogwash. Of course, John B. Denton’s grave is on the courthouse lawn. How many towns have their dead namesake lying right in the middle of town? One rumor that I will investigate, because it continues to pop up in conversation occasionally, is that there are tunnels leading from the business rows on each side of the Square, back to the courthouse. Now I could confirm or dispel this rumor with a call or two, but it’ll be more fun to let it hang for a while. I’m not sure what said tunnels would have been used for, but I’m sure it would have been for nefarious purposes. I’m sure everyone has their own special memories and stories about the Square, and I’d like to hear them if they are even halfway interesting. (please send stories, ideas, blather to: Dentoning@gmail.com).

One of my Square memories, which resulted in me almost getting shot, involved a campaign visit to Denton by George McGovern’s vice-Presidential running mate, Sargent Shriver. Shriver was scheduled to speak on the lawn of the Southwest corner of the Square, and I didn’t want a ground-level view. I wasn’t really that interested in Shriver, but being a JFK assassination buff and with his connection to the Kennedy family, I decided to make the effort. With two friends in tow, I secured a viewing post above a barber shop in the section of the West side of the Square which has since burned down. We did not have official or unofficial permission to be there, we just found a very small space and settled in for the speech. The space was pretty cramped and as we waited for Sargent to arrive, the small door to the space burst open and two, black-suited guys with guns drawn entered and requested that we lay down on the floor, spread eagle. This was in 1972 and being a mere 9 years after the assassination in Dallas, evidently the Secret Service was less than pleased with our second story viewing nest. After several minutes of intense discussion, we allayed their suspicions that we might be harboring ill-will against Mr. Shriver and were released on each other’s recognizance. I’m not sure that was a good idea, but we didn’t end up in some Gulag or shot in the jailhouse basement by a fedora-topped, strip-club owner. Denton memories are the building blocks of Dentoning. They are frequently discussed during hometown outings and assist us as we……..

Enjoy Denton!