In the process of revamping the formerly-meh Dallas Farmers Market into something that at least marginally represents local growers, the private operators who bought the Market from the City of Dallas have made some serious changes, like kicking the parking spaces out of the produce sheds and tightening rules on vendors. For the most part, it seems as if the changes have worked, and a brighter, revitalized Dallas Farmers Market is slowly becoming a reality.
As part of this continued growth, DF Market LLC plans to add five brand new "anchor" restaurants to its offerings in a building called "The Market," formerly known as Shed 2 and, perhaps more memorably, the former home of Pecan Lodge. In addition to these concepts, restaurateur Shannon Wynne's Mudhen, a chef-driven, light-fare restaurant is scheduled to open at the Market in Spring of 2015.
In the new The Market building, Rex Bellomy, owner of Rex's Seafood & Market in University Park, will bring his impossibly fresh seafood offerings for diners to both eat inside the restaurant and take home and prepare on their own. In the past, there have been seafood vendors that have occasionally set up shop at the Market, but Rex's Seafood will be the first vendor there to offer fresh fish and seafood to marketgoers.
More interestingly, Joanne Bondy is planning to open her own interpretation of the restaurant-slash-gourmet market in Stocks & Bondy. Bondy has worked in Dallas as both chef of the now-defunct Ciudad and Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Hotel. According to the press release issued by the Farmer's Market, Bondy's concept will focus on "providing home cooks, local chefs and caterers with classic and modern stocks and sauces for their kitchens using only quality, all-natural and sustainable ingredients" and offering a small, seasonal menu of soups and sandwiches.
Current market vendor Corrado Palmieri, known by regulars at the Dallas Farmers Market for his authentic Italian pastry, will expand his shop and offer gelato and fine italian coffees. Food truck Nammi will also finally get a permanent home in The Market, sharing a space with sister food truck Cool Haus, to bring a combination of Vietnamese fusion food and "architecturally inspired" ice cream sandwiches to their corner of The Market. Yesterday's press release also teased information about an upcoming restaurant from Firebird Restaurant Group, the brains behind El Fenix, Meso Maya, and Taqueria La Ventana.
The improvements are exciting, but will they be popular enough to create lasting crowds in an area that has struggled so much before? Nobody is going to have a problem with more great food coming to the Dallas Farmers Market, especially after the departure of Pecan Lodge. One does have to wonder, though, whether or not any of these spaces will be successful enough to fill the Fourtons' massive, smoke-tinged boots. It's hard to believe that people are going to be as excited about chef-made sauces and fish as they are Guy Fieri-recommended barbecue.