Every year when the summer comes around for the last 19 years, Lee Harvey's owner Seth Smith says, he'd always see a dip in attendance for his South Dallas patio bar.
"Our numbers at Lee Harvey's would always slip during the summer because it gets too hot," Smith says. "We'd hear people say, 'We'll come back when it cools off a little bit.'"
The Texas summer heat can be so brutal in these climate challenged times that Smith says the only way he and his crew could think to get people to visit the Gould Street open air bar is to build a swimming pool to cool off his clients. So Lee Harvey's dove into its pockets for the dough and swam through the sea of red tape with the city to do just that.
"It passed the test of kicking the can around thinking whether it would work or not," Smith says. "Here we are with fingers crossed hoping it will be a success."
"Here we are with fingers crossed hoping it will be a success." - Lee Harvey's owner Seth Smith says
Lee Harvey's Dive-In pool club will open the floodgates to members sometime in May after two years of treading the murky waters of zoning, permitting and construction to build its 30-by-60-foot-long swimming pool. The watering hole's pool is located in on lot right across the street on Beaumont Drive.
Smith says he started swimming around the idea of actually building a pool for his guests two years ago and got started on the city's long list of zoning paperwork through its Q-Team express review process. Despite the team's name, it took awhile to keep the pool project from drowning in the deep end of permits and zoning paperwork.
"We almost had it permitted a couple of years before that and things would pop up," Smith says. "It's one of those things where you have to hit your open date with your season with these kinds of projects. We're going to rent to private parties and so forth throughout the year, but I don't think we'll have too many motivated swimmers in November and December. So if you miss a season, you have to wait for the next one."
Finally, the bar road a wave of good luck in October when the final permits for the pool finished the approval and inspection processes so crews could start construction. Now, Smith says "it's just a matter of weeks before we open."
The tapered pool will have a maximum depth of 5 feet in the middle. Seating will surround the entire pool with deck chairs, umbrella seating and cabanas that can be rented. Admission will be available for daily attendees and membership pass holders. Preference for rentals will be given, however, to those who make it to the surface first to purchase a pool club membership.
The staff is also developing a separate kitchen and menu for the pool area with smaller options for dishes that are more preferable for the hot summer months.
Smith says his goal is to make the pool as accessible and useful as possible to his regular patrons and anyone who's looking to make a splash in the pool during the hottest times of the year. The pool will be open to everyone including minor aged swimmers until 4 p.m., when "adult swim" will start its daily afternoon and evening laps until closing time.
"We may even do some aerobics and swim classes once we get our footing," Smith says. "We've been approached by some neighborhood ladies who were like, 'We want to do aerobics in the morning,' and I'm like we're on that.
"The more we can use it, the better," Smith adds. "We like to include everyone."