FireHouse Gastro Park opened along Main Street in Grand Prairie almost two years ago and seems to have flown under the radar, maybe because of COVID. As the name implies, the multifunction space is built in an old fire station and includes a coffee shop, restaurant, two outdoor areas (one with a stage for live music) and a bar.
Owners Jason and Carlee Smith are both actors and work wherever their current gig might be. They also have experience in event management. Carlee is originally from Grand Prairie, and when the city issued a public request for proposals for the fire station it was perfect timing; they were looking for a new project that would allow them to be closer to her family.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, the large outdoor courtyard was speckled with couples and families spread out at picnic tables on astroturf. The first room inside is a self-described “tweed-fueled coffee shop,” which sells La Casita baked goods. Next is where the fire trucks would have been parked in their downtime, which is now a large dining area, kitchen and bar.
The space is intriguing. It has a simple post-modern vibe with accent pieces a la grandma’s dining and living room. Choosing a place to sit is like picking out a dessert; they all look yummy. Bistro tables with bamboo chairs are good for couples. There are larger tables for groups or '70s style funky couches flanked by a set of TV trays.
A lush tropical oasis sits in the middle of the building with sunlight streaming in from a skylight. Glass garage-style doors offer a wall of windows in the front and back.
While living in Los Angeles, the Smiths started a mobile craft cocktail company called Mama’s Medicine, which serves as the bar here. They also brought another element from out west: chef Zaida Johnson, whom they'd met through their work in event planning in Hollywood.
“Zaida went to sleep in the back of a car in Los Angeles and woke up in Grand Prairie,” Smith says, laughing, about how he got her to move here.
And bless him for that potential kidnapping, because this chicken sandwich is a love story. Everything that's been written about so far is just a lead-up to Johnson's magic in the kitchen.
There are two items on the menu with jalapeño icons next to them warning you of potential face sweat. The first is the Nashville bird, a thick, spicy, fried chicken breast topped with dill slaw and a house-made tangy "come back sauce." A toasty brioche bun nicely holds it all together.
The other jalapeño'ed menu item is the sandwiches' partner in crime, the dirty bird fries. Here the same chicken is chopped up and piled high on a bed of french fries along with the slaw, lots of sauce and pickles. Cajun spices rain over it all. These two items together fed three people easily.
There are six burgers on the menu, tacos, quesadillas and a chili dog, a slew of other chicken sandwiches and the item I'll get next visit, Mama Z's three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich. You can also order wings by the dozen. Lunch specials during the week run less than $10.
Check their site for updates on live music, an aspect of the business the Smiths hope to develop more this year. They also have karaoke and vinyl nights.
The tables fill up quickly on the weekends. Reservations are available for parties of 10 or more. It's a lovely place to spend some time, either at the coffee house, in one of the courtyards or in grandma's living room with a big Nashville bird on the TV tray.
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