As many Dentonites are aware, especially those (un)fortunate enough to live a stone's throw from the UNT campus, the "high rise" apartments going up on Fry Street have created quite a state of multi-variable chaos.
Construction, no parking, there-is-seriously-another-nail-in-my-tire syndrome: the list goes on for miles. In the end, however, all that chaos might just be worth it.
When The Tomato closed (not to mention the arson) everyone's head exploded over losing the famous mediocre pizza, and plans for the space were left to speculation for years. Eventually the entire block was torn down, forcing multiple small businesses to move or close. And the last thing staunch supporters of Fry Street's kitschy, homegrown vibe wanted was a corporate conglomerate to move in and piss their corporate poison all over the street's beloved independence. (This apparently doesn't apply to the rather popular Jimmy John's, judging by the line out the door every day at lunch time and after last call.
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But the empty block just sat there for what seemed like decades, making a cartoonish mockery of the void in the heart of many a Fry Street purist. There was talk of a CVS, which elicited gasps of horror. So there it sat.
In late 2011, and much to the dismay of proximal residents, the Sterling Fry Street project broke ground. And last week, a small banner appeared at the front of the monstrosity announcing the addition of a Chipotle and a Mac Daddy's, a Connecticut-based macaroni and cheese bar. According to the Denton Record-Chronicle, a Potbelly Sandwich Shop is also slated to share space.
For anyone who has dwelled in Denton for an extended period, especially if you've been a UNT student, you know how uneven the distribution of stores and restaurants has been. In the past, going to dinner either required a trip down the fury-inducing clusterfuck of Loop 288 or through the middle of town to the west side, not to mention the poor excuse for restaurant choices that awaited you. The options surrounding the historic Downtown Square have expanded in both number and quality and added some culinary clout in the process. Now that new eateries like Mellow Mushroom, Tim Love's Love Shack, Roosters Roadhouse and Weinberger's Deli, among others, have come to town and shown staying power, this has elevated what was once a typical "college town" food scene to something the slightly-more-sophisticated-than-Taco-Bell (except when completely shithoused on $1 Shiners) palate can appreciate.
The addition of reputable establishments around Fry Street is a step in the right direction for continuing to improve Denton's once pathetic food state. The block will never be what it once was, but a few chain restaurants are far more useful to commerce and student employment than an empty lot. There are only so many Jimmy John's sandwiches you can eat in four years.