Lots of "Ah man!" in the Observer's downtown offices this week. After the long holiday weekend, staffers arrived to find a sign posted on the door of the café on the bottom floor stating that The Metropolitan Cafe is closed. Their last day of business was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
"To all of our friends and customers - thanks for coming in for the last 20 years," the sign read.
The Metropolitan Café served home-style breakfast and lunch, quickly and at a reasonable cost. Their daily specials were quite possibly the closest thing to a home-cooked meal many customers ate all week. Just this year, we anointed the spot the best cafe for their "down-home menu and nostalgia-laced ambiance." The large display case full of homemade cakes was a source of comfort, just knowing they were there.
Owner Mike Vouras said nothing bad has happened, rather that it was "just time to move on."
Things have been slowly picking up in downtown since the pandemic cleared out many commuters last year. The new National Anthem, a restaurant just a stone's throw away from The Met Café, was bringing some new life to the area. The newly branded East Quarter of downtown is expanding both outward and upward with residential and commercial properties. Alas, foot traffic on Main Street during the weekday is still sluggish as many workers have yet to return to their downtown cubicles.
The Vouras family has a long history in the Dallas restaurant scene. Mike's father, Jimmy Vouras, was the founder and operator of The Chateaubriand on McKinney, Club 3525 and The Turtle Room on Turtle Creek Boulevard. According to a post on Facebook, the elder Vouras had "lingerie shows on Friday at lunch" that were something to behold. That's a power lunch.
We'll miss their hot coffee in the morning along with any solid sustenance we needed throughout the day. And the jazz music spilling into the elevator corridor. Plus decades' worth of Dallas artifacts, news clippings and accouterments that allowed one to stare at the walls during lunch and not be bored.