Just after we heard Spaghetti Warehouse will close in the West End, we're now told Mudhen Meat and Greens is closing in the Dallas Farmers Market on the other end of downtown.
“I apologize to all the folks in Dallas who appreciate clean and healthy options. I apologize to the vegans and vegetarians, locavores, paleophiles and keto-maniacs! We tried very hard to give you healthful options but in the end we were not successful in attracting enough people to drive all the way down to the Farmers Market to eat,” says owner Shannon Wynne in a release today.
It is a health-focused place, offering bowls filled with various options. They pushed for a low-sugar, high-plant diet. Wynne says in the release that they were one of just a few restaurants in Dallas cooking meats at temperatures less than 300 degrees, to avoid carcinogens.
He also bluntly states, "But in the end not enough people really cared."
That's the way it is for many restaurants that close, of course.
"I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did," says Matt Vermillion, who has lived in the Farmers Market neighborhood since 2015, was previously president of the Dallas Farmers Market Stakeholders Association and served on the Farmers Market TIF board for the city of Dallas.
He and his family visited the restaurant soon after it opened in 2016, going multiple times a week. Then their hours got "weird," closing early. And that's not uncommon for vendors in the area.
"On the overall management of the market itself: They definitely kind of build themselves as a destination more than for the neighborhood, there's never been a good connection," he says. "Weekends are great, it's jam-packed. ... On a weeknight, it's dead."
He notes that Rex's Seafood Market caters to the neighborhood a little better, with later hours and has a better connection with residents, but it's an outlier.
Mudhen has good real estate in the Farmers Market, taking up a good bit on the north end, where many people come into the neighborhood.
"It never connected with the neighborhood, in my opinion," Vermillion says. "I was in the TIF board at the time. We all talked about how strange it was that when they built it — originally it was supposed to be a beer garden — they built a building basically facing inward to the market. So across the street, at Ruibal's, it's basically a wall."
Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., expects the space won't be empty long.
"I think Mudhen coming into the market when it did, even before all of the construction was done and the Shed was complete, showed a real pioneering spirit and belief in the neighborhood ... With pioneering ventures, sometimes they work long term, and sometimes you have to reinvent the business plan," says Garrett, who's lived in the Farmers Market neighborhood for seven years. "I’m very confident with the interest in the overall downtown market, as well as the Farmers Market, that we’ll see that space reactivated very quickly ... The market has improved so significantly over the last five years in people being interested downtown, and with the Dallas Farmers Market proper: What better place to put a restaurant?"
Mudhen is working to place staff into jobs at other Moth Management restaurants around town, the release states. Wynne, Keith Schlabs and Larry Richardson are the creators of many concepts, including Bird Café, Meddlesome Moth, Miriam Cocina Latina, Rodeo Goat, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium and Flying Fish.
Mudhen, located at 900 S. Harwood St., will close Nov. 3.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.