On April 29, the space that used to house the beloved Knox-Henderson bar Vickery Park became home to a new concept: Stellar, a bar and restaurant boasting "midcentury modern décor with indoor and outdoor tables, American cuisine, a cocktail bar and a dog-friendly patio." But the concept proved to be anything but stellar.
The cocktail list was filled with misspellings and saccharine drinks made with basic spirits like Crown Royal Vanilla and Smirnoff Blueberry, the food was bland and instantly forgettable, and our experience was bizarrely marred by chemicals when an employee traversed the room, spraying harsh disinfectant at the feet of diners as they ate.
The midcentury modern design was instead a chintzy, busy mish-mash of trendy design touches and massive TVs screening sports, making it feel like this new concept was already suffering from an identity crisis. Yelp reviews painted an equally bleak picture of the Stellar experience. Knox-Henderson is a competitive neighborhood filled with successful bar-restaurants like Victor Tangos and Tei Tei Robata, and Stellar seemed destined to have a short shelf life.
It was a short run, indeed: Miranda Management Hospitality Group, the team behind North Texas restaurants Trophy Ranch, and the Trophy Room, has sold the restaurant after only four months. Stellar is launching a rebrand Sept. 8 and will become Bar Stellar, a "cocktail den which will place an emphasis on beautiful presentation and fresh, craft ingredients," according to a press release. Southern Methodist University undergrad and restaurateur Francois Reihani, 21, bought Stellar.
His plan for Bar Stellar's rebrand includes "imaginative and over-the-top beverages, featuring a mix of both classic and contemporary mixology," according to the press release. "Complementing the cocktails will be a thoughtful list of sharable bar bites, each with a touch of whimsy. The concept serves to highlight the social cocktail experience, in a space designed with social media in mind." Reihani has tapped "up and coming barman Trea Feist" to run the cocktail program.
Social media seems to be a major aspect of the rebrand:
Welcome to the future: Instead of flying cars, we have restaurants built entirely with selfies and Instagram in mind. The new design elements will include "a dramatic all-black exterior and white neon sign," and "a new black and white mural on the side of the building will serve as the perfect backdrop for a quick photo op before heading inside for a drink." Local artists will swap out the mural four times per year.
A menu of 15 signature craft beverages will highlight the concept’s imaginative range, from classics, to cocktails under 100 calories and sharable drinks for four, each with dramatic flair. Careful consideration and care is put into each drink, starting with fresh, local ingredients of the highest quality. From start to finish, each is a work of art, where the glass is the canvas.
Instagram-worthy libations include the Pinky Promise, featuring strawberry, lemon, basil, a choice of vodka or gin, and Pop Rocks; the Cloud Nine with vodka, blueberries, lemon, dry ice and cotton candy and the Wildfire with Makers Mark 46 Bourbon, smoked woodchip glass, sugar cube, angostura bitters, Luxardo cherries and a flaming orange peel. Engaging, shareable drinks are served in eclectic stemware, such as a full tea set and glass skull.
The new aesthetic is described as "a modern adaptation of Hollywood Regency style" with "wall coverings reminiscent of the iconic Martinique banana palm leaves that adorn the Beverly Hills Hotel." In short: "Miami chic" vibes with an emphasis on quirky spaces built for selfies. We'll be curious to see if the changes give the concept any staying power.
Stellar, 2810 N. Henderson Ave.