Tag Archives: Restaurants

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….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!

Dentoning….Changes

Business is good in Denton, yet the loud sucking sound of a depleted, yet reviving economy, has pulled several local businesses under in recent months. Tim Love’s “Love Shack” is probably the most notorious. The breath-takingly fast demise of Love Shack left Denton residents in shock and it’s employees high and dry. Months later the high-end steakhouse, Queenie’s was birthed by Mr. Love. Let’s hope that Denton is ready for Queenie’s!

Cellar 22, formerly Wine Safari and Bushwacker’s, fell prey to the sluggish economy after it’s move from East Oak St. to the Entertainment District on East Hickory. The petite, cozy refuge and one of my satellite offices, with be missed by many.

Just across Hickory St., Ramen Republic closed a while back replaced with the just-opened Rusty Taco. A friend recently asked the question “why open a ramen noodle restaurant in a town of students who eat 15¢ squares of ramen several times a week.?” I had no answer. The opening of Rusty Taco, in place of Ramen Republic, may be the start of Taco Wars with its down the street neighbor, Fuzzy Taco. We used to have gas wars, why not tex-mex wars.?…….same thing, I guess.

Another quick turn-around in the same space was the Cafe Europa to Royal’s Bagel transformation. Cafe Europa had admittedly strong completion from nearby Starbucks, yet owner Joey Hawkins didn’t let that discourage him and immediately began work on Royal’s after the closing of Cafe Europa.

The long-time Denton flower legend, Linwood-Alford florist closed shop recently and the building at the corner of Carroll and Hickory Sts transformed into the office for Verus real estate and for the new Smiling Moose Deli.

Though the tone of this particular blog may be somewhat morose, it is actually the reality of an economic downturn………which seems to be making a slow, but steady come back. We can hope for recovery and as my grandfather used to say “trade with” these new ventures.

Denton has always been in a state of change. This can be good, if we keep an eye on it. Denton’s charm comes from it’s small town feel, it’s diversified/vibrant neighborhoods, its amazing people and it’s historic buildings.

Travelsteads and Barneys Auto

Jimmy Normile

Jimmy Normile of Barney’s Auto Supply


The businesses of Travelstead and Barney’s Auto, both on East Hickory, went south years ago not due to the economy, but to being bypassed by technology. Travelstead was originally a Model T dealership, followed by a Batam dealership. The big boys on the highway helped turn Travelstead into a lawn mover repair shop. NINETY YEAR OLD Jimmie Normile, of Barney’s tells me that business was really good until 1985 when cars became so sophisticated that few people continued to work on their own cars. Both of these historic businesses and the buildings they occupy are in imminent danger of being torn down.



Change is good……..it is, but not at the expense of the past. Surrounding cities have actually copied some of Denton’s historic buildings because they have none. Look at South Lake, Frisco, and Plano for examples…….do we want replicas of historic buildings, or the real thing? I hope and pray East Hickory doesn’t go the way of our once beloved Fry St. Change is good……but let’s hold on to the treasures we have. Once gone, they can’t be replaced……

Enjoy Denton! Save East Hickory Street!