Openings and Closings

Macellaio Closes, Makes Room for Lucia's New Dining Room

Jennifer and David Uygur will take their Macellaio space to turn it into the new Lucia.
Jennifer and David Uygur will take their Macellaio space to turn it into the new Lucia. Kathy Tran
Just two weeks after we published our list of Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas, we fell to 99.

Earlier this week, Jennifer and David Uygur announced they would close Macellaio, their newer restaurant on North Bishop Avenue.

“During the pandemic, we’ve struggled to find the right niche for Lucia’s casual sister restaurant. Despite multiple pivots, sales continued to drop. With drastically diminished sales and no Salaryman to help share expenses, there simply isn’t a path forward for Macellaio. So, David and I decided to close it permanently,” Jennifer Uygur wrote on Facebook Monday.

They still had “multiple years” remaining on that lease, but it turns out, the lease term for Lucia’s location on West Eighth Street expires at the end of this year. So, the restaurant we’ve known housed in 1,100 square feet is now moving to the main drag of the Bishop Arts District.

Lucia will move into Macellaio’s former space at 287 N. Bishop Ave. That means those who want to support Lucia can do either takeout or dinner on a large, covered patio (with heaters).

Come January, they will renovate the space, and Salaryman’s former spot next door will become the permanent Lucia to Go spot. In the spring, the owners hope to reopen Lucia (in the Macellaio area) for socially distanced dine-in. The goal is to have two separate spaces for the operations, so someone running in to pick up food to go isn't having to make his or her way through a dining room (spaced out or not, doing that's not ideal).

click to enlarge Jennifer and David Uygur - EMILY LOVING
Jennifer and David Uygur
Emily Loving
“Lucia, in its new space, will look different than it did. But so many other things in our lives look different than they did last year, don’t they? We hope that you — like us — will just be glad that there still will BE a Lucia to enjoy in the new year,” Uygur wrote in her Facebook post.

She told the Observer afterward how in a perfect world, they wouldn’t plan to move the restaurant, but we’re far from perfect or even normal-as-we-knew-it scenarios.

“It’s a completely different space over there. It will have echoes of Lucia, but it will have to be its own thing,” she said.

Books and other decorations from Lucia (originally from the Uygurs’ house) will make their way around the corner to the bigger restaurant space. It may feel different, but remember: Generally speaking, eating a meal is not simply about the bricks of the walls around you.

"We hope that you — like us — will just be glad that there still will BE a Lucia to enjoy in the new year." — Jennifer Uygur

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“It’s the team and the food we serve and how we serve,” Uygur said.

The couple has traversed the last year carefully, closing for dine-in and talking thoroughly with their staff members. They furloughed employees, then received Paycheck Protection Program funding and kept pushing with takeout. They asked more detailed questions about their employees to make sure everyone would stay safe.

“That’s not my business, but it's COVID, it has to become your business,” Uygur said of making sure staff isn’t exposed.

No one on staff has tested positive for COVID, she said.

As they consider reopening for dine-in in the fall, they’re talking about when people will feel comfortable sitting next to strangers — and how close will they really want to be to them?

“Does it mean you’ll permanently subtract bars from your bar? I don’t know,” she said.

The future, of course, is unknown. Even if the powers that be say 100% capacity is allowed, it’s unachievable keeping 6 feet of distance among parties — something that seriously did not work in the former Lucia spot.

For now, there’s a new movement for the Lucia team, which Uygur said is a rather helpful feeling.

“I’ve been snuffling here the dining room of Lucia, and then I get excited, and I think David would agree with me, it’s good to have a plan and be working toward something positive as opposed to, you try to survive and you go, ‘Is this my life now? When can I start being creative in my food, instead of where can I actually not hemorrhage money, how do we start building a bridge back to where we were?’” she said. “Being able to have something to look forward to isn’t what we’ve had in a bit.”

Lucia, soon to be at 287 N. Bishop Ave. (Bishop Arts District)
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.