There's trouble brewing in the land of lofts, bros and trolleys. Owners of Uptown spots such as Thomas Ave. Beverage Company, The Nodding Donkey and Si Tapas say they're getting squeezed by irascible homeowners who've had whole swaths of Thomas Avenue and Allen Street designated for residents only, leaving patrons with nowhere nearby to park. And they're afraid it's going to get worse.
"This thing is going to spread all around Uptown, which is gonna be terrible for business," says TABC owner Russell Hayward. "We've been trying to be cooperative and conciliatory, but they're just trying to shut us down."
McKinney Avenue-area establishments like TABC don't have big asphalt lots to accommodate patrons, so they're zoned for street parking. "The intent of that is to rely on the neighborhood for street parking," Hayward says. "The reason they did that was to entice people like me to open businesses where there is no parking. That was fine for 17 years.
"Now the new residents don't like that anymore and have basically choked us off on parking."
It may have started with something as small as a red Solo cup, left like breadcrumbs by Uptown-dwelling pre-gamers who stroll to the bars and ditch the remains of that Jack and Coke along the way. At closing times, the same Uptowners hoof it back home, lubricated and vocal. Obnoxious, sure, but it's the price of living in Uptown, he says.
"This is an urban environment, and you live on a retail street. There's a good chance there will be noise when people leave those bars," Hayward says. "When these people did move in and buy homes, it was quieter. There weren't as many apartments around. McKinney wasn't as busy."
But it became a youthful part of town with a vibrant nightlife, where twenty-somethings hold it down till closing time. We've left messages all over Dallas City Hall, including for Angela Hunt, who bar owners say they've reached out to in an attempt to solve the problem. When we hear back we'll update accordingly.
When the Nodding Donkey moved in across the street, Hayward says traffic doubled. Residents began complaining to the police. "They take a corporal off his desk to drive up here to give a ticket to one truck when there's 12 other spots open," The Nodding Donkey co-owner Tony Winkler says.
Only those 12 other spots were now resident-only parking from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. -- his busiest hours.
"Right in front of my restaurant, the whole street of Allen ... nobody can park there," says Alfonso Jimenez, owner of Si Tapas.
"It's already rumored that it's hard enough to find parking here," Winkler adds. "Now my valet becomes more crowded, or I gotta push people out further, two or three blocks. My employees park two to three blocks away minimum."
Winkler says the resident-only spots aren't even being used, and that they amount to little more than scorched earth. "They all have two-car parking garages!"
"There's plenty of room, so now it's vindictive."
Winkler says business was down 50 percent in December. Hayward says the lack of parking is killing his weekday happy hour crowd. If residents keep consuming the streets, they both worry about the future of business in the area.
Says Hayward: "They're going to push restaurant operations off of McKinney."