The Fabulous Thunderbirds were among the acts that had shows scheduled at Big Beat Dallas before it closed this week.EXPAND
The Fabulous Thunderbirds were among the acts that had shows scheduled at Big Beat Dallas before it closed this week.
Carl Lender

Big Beat Dallas Closes After Only Two Months

As places keep popping up around the Toyota Music Factory in Irving, the 500,000-plus square foot mixed-use entertainment and lifestyle complex has lost a large tenant.

Word got out quickly late Tuesday morning that Big Beat Dallas was not reopening its doors after a rather rocky two months in business.

The venue tried to be a lot of things in its approach. With Texas Jam House, Bar Manzanilla, Highway 61, Martini Ranch and Texas C Bar in the Big Beat complex, Billy Bob’s Texas founder Billy Bob Barnett was involved. Music ranging from live blues to solo piano to DJs offered shows for a wide range of fans. But business struggled while live acts were paid well night after night.

Big Beat Dallas’ Facebook page had a public post to its employees, but it was promptly deleted:

"We have been advised by our attorneys that we should discontinue our business operations as a result of the inability to operate with any efficiency due to the lack of parking efficiencies, the inability to operate the plaza as a result of landlord interference, and other material factors affecting our business," the post read.

"Operations will cease, effective as of 12 AM this evening, 5/29/18. You will receive instructions from Mark Kim and Greg Crouse with regard regards to pay, benefits, etc.

"I regret that this has become necessary and hope to once again renew operations in a more business conducive environment sometime in the very near future. I want to thank all of you for your efforts and want you to know that I personally appreciate all that you have done. I wish you all the best and regret any hardship this may cause you.

"Sincerely,

"Billy Bob Barnett"


For many people who worked at the place, having to find new work after only two months is a shock.

Daniel Castaneda worked on the production staff and often ran sound. He says he is sad about the closure.

“I made a lot of new friends working at this place,” Castaneda says. “A lot of good people are without a job now.”

Things look rather grim as far as rescheduling the shows booked for the venue. Acts such as the Original Wailers, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Cory Morrow and Sister Hazel were all set to come this summer.

“I think a lot of these shows will end up just not happening at all,” Castaneda says. “These shows were booked to be a free concert. It's going to be hard to move shows and now charge admission.”

Las Colinas-based Cooksey PR firm, which handles the Toyota Music Factory account, sent out a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“We received word today that the Big Beat Dallas concept at Toyota Music Factory is closing,” Randy E. Pruett wrote. “Rest assured that all the many other dining and entertainment concepts at Toyota Music Factory, including The Pavilion concert venue and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, are open and thriving. The closing has no effect whatsoever on other operations at Toyota Music Factory.”

Noah Lazes, the president of ARK Group and developer of Toyota Music Factory, says he is disappointed.

“We are disappointed to learn that Billy Bob Barnett and his team have decided to close their concept,” he says. “The concept Barnett built is high quality and well designed. Unfortunately, even the most successful entertainment districts can have tenant turnover.”

The statement also assured that new business, including Nosh & Bottle Market, Kitchen 101 and Violet Room, will be open soon at Toyota Music Factory. Its Pavilion continues to bring in top national and local talent, with Leon Bridges, Poison, Paramore and Styx scheduled to perform this summer.

Could another venue like Big Beat Dallas work in the suburbs?

“Absolutely, if done right,” Castaneda says. “We started gaining a regular crowd. People who lived around the area were really excited to have great live music down the street from their home.”

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