John's Movement

For cafe, it's not "goodbye" but "until we meet again"

By the time New Year's Eve 2005 rolls through Lower Greenville Avenue, the institution known as John's Café will be gone. After 33 years. Why does this matter? It's the food. John's packs them in--from lawyers and local musicians to the bed-headed and hungover braving the morning sun to drink sludge, poke at a stack of pancakes and lift their noses to catch the unholy scent of frying bacon. This is what the notice says: "The landlord of this historic building [Willingham Property Co.] has decided not to renew leases at this location after 70 years of business on the avenue. Their plan is to demolish the building and rebuild another in its place." Pretty strong stuff. Opened in 1972 by John Spyropoulos, John's has remained a family venture for the whole stretch with moms, dads, brothers, sisters and daughters pitching in.

So what?

Well, it's a landmark that refuses to die, so it probably won't. "We're not ready to retire," says Mary Spyropoulos, wife of John. "We want to stay in the neighborhood. Too many memories." So starts the drama: the hunt for a new John's.


In Memoriam: Dallas restaurateurs were shocked to learn of the loss of Tex-Mex legend Paul Rodriguez, who died in his sleep of unknown natural causes this past Sunday night. Rodriguez, brother of Mi Cocina founder Mico Rodriguez and part of the family that founded Mia's Tex-Mex Restaurant, had been integral to that restaurant for some 25 years. But his work went far beyond the Lemmon Avenue landmark founded in 1981. "Paul was an awesome visionary," says Jeffrey Yarbroughof Big Ink Public Relations and Marketing. "He was always in the background and he didn't want to take the spotlight." Rodriguez was integral in establishing the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association's Tastemaker Awards, the annual event that recognizes the local hospitality industry's top talent. He also compiled the list of Dallas' 100 top restaurants past and present, called the Tastemaker 100, and organized the fund-raising program "A Meal to Remember" for the AIDS Resource Center, as well as dreamed up the Noisy Auction as the part of the North Texas New Music Festival benefiting Sweet Relief, the nonprofit organization that aids ailing musicians... Republic, the uptown lounge and international tapas bar that opened on north Hall Street in late 2003, appears to be dead-bolted...Recently appointed Mansion on Turtle Creek Executive Chef Michael Moribito(he had been on the Mansion kitchen crew for 12 years) is shifting over to the Hotel Crescent Court to assume the same role.

 
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