Food News

Social 121 Might Look Like It's Sinking, But It's Just Getting Started

My email inbox has received a steady stream of special offers from the Social 121 public relations team. I'm beginning to think the correspondences might be pleas of desperation and that the newly opened restaurant-club in the old Loft 610 space is floundering after being opened for one month.

The most recent notice is an advertisement for an Administrative Professionals Day deal. If customers make advance reservations for April 27, they will receive one free dessert for the table.

Another offer announced a buy-one-get-one-free deal valid between Tuesday and Friday of that week. A free bottle of wine would be yours with an order of two dinner entrées during the same period.

Owner Scott Siers, an investor in craft-beer bar The Common Table, operated by Twomey Concepts, the hospitality company that also owned Loft 610, had no previous experience running a restaurant when he opened Social 121. Siers, a former executive at PepsiCo, and Social 121 executive chef Jason Skinner have designed an urbane-industrial space with neon backlighting and exposed brick that does double duty as restaurant during lunch and dinner and a lounge as the evening turns into night. The restaurant also contains a separate bottle-service VIP area called Club 121.

Siers says he wants to use the Club 121 loft space as an occasional forum where local artists, what he called "truly starving artists," to show their work and introduce the public to it. The pieces won't be for sale, though. "These events will have wine and hors d'oeuvres, but it won't be a real art gallery in the sense that the pieces are for sale. Nothing will be for sale," explains Siers. All of this is centered on the owner's passions: music, art and food.

The email blasts are simply a way to drive awareness. "There isn't a lot of foot traffic where we're located," Siers says. "Our sign isn't up yet." Still, he says, regulars have already been created, encouraged by price points lowered from those of Loft 610, prices that made the former restaurant an event destination. With Social 121's lower prices, Siers hopes to compete directly with the abundance of fast-casual chains in the vicinity. "Why go to Chipotle and Five Guys for a nine-dollar lunch that's the same everywhere, when I can go to Social 121, spend $14 and have a unique experience with uncompromised quality?"

That experience will shed its soft-opening status May 6 and 7 during the restaurant's grand-opening celebration. During that weekend, Siers will bring in painter-performance artist CHADWICK from Chicago. He will be working his palette into a fury over three services. The finished pieces will then be hung in Social 121. "There will be art on the walls, art in the nightclub's music and art in the food," Siers says.

With Frisco among the fastest growing areas in the region, new residents want businesses with a downtown Dallas feel without having to drive into town. Social 121 might be the answer, but its highly conceptual nature might also drive patrons away, regardless of the menu's affordability. The grand opening will be the first indicator of future success. If Siers and Skinner can subsequently bring in lunch customers from the many corporate headquarters nearby and get them to return later for the lounge, Social 121 won't sink.

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José Ralat Maldonado