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Another hypothesis for declining lunch crowds: People who make a regular habit of eating dishes like LUCK's biscuit and gravy probably die young. Happy, but young.
Another hypothesis for declining lunch crowds: People who make a regular habit of eating dishes like LUCK's biscuit and gravy probably die young. Happy, but young.
Taylor Adams

The Decline of Brunch in Dallas

Brunch is more than a common practice for the people of Dallas. It’s a way of life, a religious ceremony in which we eat the Benedict eggs and drink the Blood of Mary, and fall into a seemingly eternal, daylong state of oblivion. From mimosas at Public School 214 to short-rib hash at Common Table, Irish coffees at BBC, The Rustic’s endless fried chicken, Blackfriar’s sangria, green chili chorizo biscuits and gravy from Saint Ann … a carafe here, a carafe there, if you’re in Dallas on any given Saturday or Sunday, it’s carafes everywhere.

There’s no shortage of boozy brunch spots in Dallas, and up until recently, where brunch would be held was likely the first group text you’d wake up to on any given day of the weekend. That thrill, though, which once pulled us out of bed before noon on Saturday and diluted our Sunday scaries with bottomless mimosas, has gone much off the radar. Much like Social House and Villa-O, two of the city’s original late-breakfast hotspots, the brunch scene in Dallas seems to have bit the big one — not a big breakfast sandwich, either.

Time Out Group found in a recent survey that, since 2018, there has been a 7% decline in people going out for brunch. Why though, are these too-large groups of 20-somethings, shouting over bottomless mimosas on Saturday and Sunday beginning to decrease? Perhaps it started when the bottomless mimosas went underwater?

We all remember the day: You walked into your favorite brunch spot with mimosas on your mind, only to find that the $15 you were prepared to spend on bottomless Champagne would instead be used for two measly flutes that you’d surely finish before the food arrived. Endless drinks began to decline after being uncovered as illegal in Texas. When brunch was at its peak and social media was overflowing with posts about where to get the best deals on bottomless drinks, TABC started really cracking down on the fixed-price, limitless bubbles we loved so much. Slowly but surely, bottomless mimosas fell off the menus in Dallas.

Back before the bottomless drinks ran out, when the brunch hype was at its highest boiling point, the streets of Uptown would be brimming from morning to late afternoon with thirsty millennials. However, growing popularity of areas like Deep Ellum, Knox-Henderson and Bishop Arts have sprinkled Saturday and Sunday-funday crowds across the city. With Uptown being less a hub, brunch hopping has become a more difficult task than in the past.

One thing that didn’t change was the overcrowding inside our favorite spots. Wait times are perhaps the most inhibiting factor when deciding a brunch spot for a group. When the time you’re waiting to get seated exceeds how long you will presumably sit at the table, it’s hardly justifiable to stand around, especially if your brunch starts tasting more like a late lunch.

The wait time dilemma can’t stop a true brunch enthusiast, as Dallas Brunch Boiz Alex Blasig, Sterling Danger and Eddie Osuna ran into a similar situation just last month, when their group of eight was unable to find a restaurant without a wild wait time. Most of the spots they attempted had wait times nearing the two-hour mark.

“It seems like your only option is making a reservation in advance these days,” Blasig says. “Since we didn’t have one, we ended up going to Clutch, because we knew there wouldn’t be a wait time and we could walk right in and rage without issues.”

The rage-factor deserves particular consideration as well, as it seems to be the heart of the breakfast-lunch duo that modern America has taken such a liking to. But is this the only reason people love brunch?

“There are two different types of brunches,” says Danger, “recovery versus retox. Dallas lacks options for those that want to ‘turn up’ during brunch. It’s as if they have limited brunch to the places where you chill and start your day in relaxation, instead of capitalizing on those who want to start their party day.”

Perhaps, if there was a distinction between the restaurants that cater to those who are looking for a fun time, versus those looking for a quiet, family brunch, then the rage-factor that once fueled the brunch fad might be nurtured back to life.

Looking at the party that accompanies brunch brings up another conflict that could have changed the public’s general brunch craving. Does it actually boil down to the aftermath that a full-day of drinking undeniably produces? Despite the hardcore start to the day, an afternoon of overeating and cheers-ing is sure to cook up exhaustion.

For a while, Saturday evenings were regarded as a “maybe,” depending on how drunk your group got in the afternoon. This is something that BBC bartender Ciera Harris started noticing after they revamped their brunch last year.

“Everyone goes overboard,” Harris says, rolling her eyes. “I’ll be working a midday shift and come in at 4 p.m. and have to turn people away from the bar for being blackout already.”

Brunch seems to have turned into just a reason to get drunk for many. This poses a problem when looking at the party’s continuation on Sunday. When Sunday-funday starts with a boozy brunch, there will likely be a baker’s dozen come down with “food poisoning” to their bosses on Monday. Weekend activities start trickling into the week and interfering with jobs, a change must be made.

And, alas, could this be the true reason we’ve grown out of our appetite for the weekend marathon that we once loved? Too many brunches, not enough raises. Maybe we’ve grown up after all.

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