Hash Over

Load of bull
Sometimes a probe into the obtuse puzzle surrounding Dale Wamstad's III Forks steakhouse can get you more than you bargained for.

Wamstad and III Forks ran full-page ads late last week in the front section of The Dallas Morning News. Baffling things, these ads. "Before Dallas was Dallas, it was III Forks Territory. Grand Reopening," the top few lines announce. "Grand Reopening" is flanked by "Founded 1838" on the left and "Reopened 1998" on the right. Farther down, the ad mentions "March Grand Opening Festivities." Two boxes at the bottom of the page announce Buttermilk Cafe and Market and III Forks Trading Post.

I called the restaurant to find out exactly what all this meant. Specifically, how is it possible to have a grand reopening and grand opening simultaneously at a place that's been open steadily for several months? "In 1838 this was the III Forks territory, and now, in 1998, it's reopened as III Forks," explained a spokeswoman. Uh-huh. Aside from the fact that it's now 1999, what's the March grand opening? "It's referring to the grand opening of everything," she reveals. "We had hoped everything would open together. It didn't. We're still going ahead and calling it a grand opening even though III Forks has been open for a while."

She suggested that to get the full gist I should call Wamstad himself, who quickly ventured into the truly bizarre. "You're the one that always blasts me in the paper. My general manager feels bad about that because he's Jewish and he thinks y'all are anti-Semite [sic]. He thinks that if I didn't have a Jewish general manager, y'all wouldn't be treating us like you treat us. I tell him that I don't think that's the case, but why don't you call Rick Stein and let him talk to you?"

So I did, for an explanation of both the ad and the alleged defamation. "We've had a metaphor of being the village and III Forks being the castle," Stein clarifies. "So we're just opening the Buttermilk, and the Buttermilk houses the III Forks Trading Post, and we've lit our fountain of independence, which is a tribute to the independent operators in Dallas and America. This is just the grand opening that Dale had envisioned for so long when everything on the property was completed." And the alleged anti-Semitism in the Dallas Observer? "My personal feeling is that the media is serving its own means, and whether they're satisfying their advertisers, or whether they're racist or anti-Semitic or something like that, you just never know."

That's a pretty sorry excuse for a particularly execrable charge laid against a journalist, but we'll let it pass. III Forks is a steakhouse, after all. At least they know bull.

--Mark Stuertz


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