The weird entertainment complex loop at the corner of I-35 and Northwest Highway is one of northwest Dallas' stranger places to visit. Not quite Bachman Lake, not quite Harry Hines, and not quite Irving, it's in a vortex all of its own. Technology Boulevard, as this loop is called, is marked by a handful of chains and a few businesses that seem to fail and re-start every year or so.
The strangest building, next to the country mecca that is Red River and some sort of Mary Kay depot, is the former Firewater Bar & Grill, which more recently was a short-lived southern cooking restaurant. A fabulous and unique space for a Dallas venue, you'll be well aware that for the last year or so Richard Rawlings, of Fast 'N' Loud fame, has turned it into a music venue restaurant destination-type thing that's pulled in some pretty impressive names in its short lifespan, and unlike the former occupants of the space seems destined to occupy the building for a long time to come.
A quick scan over the forthcoming concerts at Gas Monkey Bar and Grill reveals the sort of impressive shows the nascent venue has pulled away from more established Dallas venues - Cody Canada and the Departed, a former Granada staple, Shinyribs from the Kessler, The Misfits, Devin Townsend, and The Sword from similar-sized circa 1,000 capacity venues.
Now, though, they're changing up again, and shooting for the 2,500 capacity sweet spot that is only covered in Dallas by venues like the patchy South Side Ballroom and House of Blues, and they're doing it by taking over one of the regularly abandoned pieces of real estate in the same weird Technology Boulevard vortex.
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, a restaurant attached to a Studio Move Grill, which Toby Keith clearly did not love enough to keep open, shut down a few months ago. TKILTBAG, which is not the catchiest acronym, hosted the odd band or two, but now Rawlings and co. have some serious plans for the place as they look to lure more and more bands to northwest Dallas from their traditional trendy spot homes.
You can see more about the specs here, but the highlights are this -- 38,000 square feet, 2,500 capacity, a big video screen, vintage pinball machines, opens October 11 with a Social Distortion show.
If they can work out some of the kinks still present at GMBNG, especially the odd table service situation that requires an unfortunate waiter to bring drinks to VIPs by walking within ten feet of the front of the stage, it'll be a worthy alternative to South Side and House of Blues, which have been resting on their mid-size venue laurels for far too long. Here's to increased competition.