In the minutely Balkanized geosphere of Old East Dallas, the announced migration of Whole Foods from Lower Greenville to the Lakewood Shopping Center is an earthquake -- a death and the impossible dream come true. And that's for a move of .97 miles.
I wrote recently about the boom in fashionable townhomes on the streets bordering Lowest Greenville. In that column I did not include a nugget that I heard repeatedly from people doing all that development: A key factor in the anticipated urban renaissance of that area is/was the presence of Whole Foods.
That store in particular is important: 1) because it's a grocery store, 2) because it a Whole Foods and 3) because it is the original Whole Foods in Dallas, so it's small, funky and not suburboid. The people who have invested in that area have to be feeling a really bad toothache today.
But maybe they can salvage something. There will still be a niche in that area for a boutique grocery store, because some people won't migrate to the new one.
You'd think the people in that neck of the woods wouldn't mind trekking a few blocks over to the corner of Gaston and Abrams when the new one opens later this year, but you might be partially wrong, because the new one is bound to be big, glitzy, Park Cities-esque and an affront to hipster sensibilities.
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But nearby Lakewood has dreamed of this sort of thing for decades, and I refer to the real Lakewood, the Dines and Craft, Dilbeck and Yeager streets east of Abrams, not Ersatz Lakewood, an area that exists only in the minds of real estate agents and includes all of East Dallas. Real Lakewood, a Park Cities-wannabe area, has chafed and carried a chip on its shoulders for years because it can't get the kind of retail that would help it get over not being the Park Cities.
I know because a long time ago in a different life I tried to persuade Patrique Esquerre, the French guy who founded the La Madeleine restaurant chain, to set me up in a little Frenchified coffee bistro right where the Whole Foods is going in at Gaston and Abrams. He came over and walked the area with me and then said non.
Patrique kept telling me the area was too "dunskle," which I thought maybe was a restaurant term I should act like I knew. Later I asked his friend Annie Herndon what it meant, and she told me he was trying to tell me Lakewood was too down-scale. Well, I guess not no more.
Now maybe Lakewood really can be the Park Cities after all. But for that I think they still need a drive-through cocaine store for the kids. --Jim Schutze