Last Call: The Stoneleigh P to Relocate after turning the Big 5-0 | Dallas Observer

Last Call: The Stoneleigh P to Relocate After Turning the Big 5-0

The Stoneleigh P is having a big 50th-anniversary party. Alas, it will be the last year in this spot.
The Stoneleigh is turning 50 and calling it quits at its Maple Avenue location.
The Stoneleigh is turning 50 and calling it quits at its Maple Avenue location. Stoneleigh P
Share this:
Uptown’s historic bar, Stoneleigh P, is celebrating its golden anniversary with a final shindig at the current Maple Avenue location.

The bar will host a 50th-anniversary party on Saturday, April 15, from 3 p.m. to closing. Dallas’ Dingo’s Band, a cover and original rock and R&B group, will kick off the party. DJ Mark Ridlen will take over at 7 p.m. with a vinyl set, spinning music that spans decades.

“My goal is just to have every generation, everybody that's ever had a good time here, to just be here on one day,” says Laura Garrison, Stoneleigh P general manager and daughter of owner Tom Garrison. “I really just want everybody to come together and talk about ‘The P,’ to just celebrate this piece of Dallas history.”

The anniversary party will close out a half-century of history for both the Garrisons and Dallas: It is the beginning of the end for the Maple Avenue location. The iconic bar is looking for a new location after not being able to renew the current lease. It will close in 2024 on its 51st anniversary.

Original investors in the spot — Tom Garrison, Robert Alexander, Teresa Alexander, Alan Cahil and Richard Windburn — transformed the Stoneleigh Pharmacy into a restaurant and bar in 1973. The P was envisioned as a sanctuary for creatives and musicians. Good food, cold beer, low prices and a family atmosphere were essential to the mission.
click to enlarge
Tom Garrison and a group of investors opened the Stoneleigh P in 1973.
Stoneleigh P
Mission fulfilled. At 81 years old, Tom continues to be a Stoneleigh P staple (he bought out the other investors during COVID). A handwritten sign near the entrance informs guests of the day’s specials. Garrison can usually be found somewhere behind the bar, wearing a gambler crease cowboy hat, long-sleeved button-up and a welcoming smile.

“I couldn't imagine the P without him,” Laura says. “He's definitely always a presence, always."

If walls could talk, the Stoneleigh P’s would recite a novel boasting outlandish shenanigans, triumphs and tribulations. They would tell of the times that President Jimmy Carter, Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus, Kenny Loggins and Bill Sullivan have pulled up a seat at the bar's countertop. They would tell of the nights that turned into mornings while patron’s danced away and the stories behind each bra that never made it home, but instead landed a coveted spot on the makeshift chandelier over the bar.

They would also tell of the night the bar burned to ashes.

On Jan. 26, 1980, Tom awoke to a call. The P was on fire. When he arrived on Maple Avenue, the bar was engulfed in flames. By the time the flames were extinguished, all that remained was a veil of smog and a blanket of ash.

A year and six months later, the Stoneleigh P reopened with a celebration. “The Great Come Back” party would showcase the bar’s phoenix-like resurrection. Music serenaded guests from the jukebox. The cocktails were stiff and the flame-grilled burgers were savory. It was a joyous night that would set the tone for decades to come.

In the 43 years since the second iteration of the bar got its footing, the bar’s surroundings have changed. Buildings now tower over the neighborhood bar and its newer counterparts come with all the bells and whistles social media demands.

“We don't go with the trends, we just kind of stick to what we've had,” Laura says. “Our staff sticks with us and I think that lends itself to the customers sticking with us … All Dallas does is the trendy and the new, but we're the little oasis that hasn't done that.”

Despite the influx of businesses, residents and development, The Stoneleigh P remains true to its origins. The bar credits its longevity to remaining loyal to its tried-and-true values.

The bar is the kind of workplace that remembers your birthday and surprises you with a cake. It’s the kind of restaurant where the staff knows your usuals. They know where your family went during spring break and ask how it went. It’s the kind of place everyone comes back.

After being raised in the bar, Laura left to seek her degree but knew she’d come back home to The P.

“It was always in the cards for me to come home,” Laura says.

Since 2017, Laura has taken the helm at the Stoneleigh P, running the bar with a modern approach to the easygoing atmosphere her father’s created.
Starting them young is important. Laura Garrison as a toddler behind the bar with her dad, Tom.
Stoneleigh P
The Stoneleigh P’s third resurgence will hopefully be sustained by the vitality that created the original iconic spot. Laura will operate the neighborhood bar with the same down-to-earth atmosphere in a new location, one the Garrisons hope will be within 4 miles of the current location.

The Stoneleigh P, 2926 Maple Ave. Daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Dallas Observer has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.