Downtown Dallas Inc. hosted a very large luncheon yesterday for those with a vested interest in the improvement of Dallas' city center. I sat at table number 98, and there were ten place settings at each table. If everyone who signed up showed up, there were nearly 1000 attendees who came to hear John Crawford, the CEO of DDI, and Mayor Mike Rawlings talk about the state of Downtown Dallas.
This was my first Mayoral Luncheon. Actually this was the first event that I've ever attended that was referred to as a luncheon. I was not prepared. Here are some things I learned.
Luncheons are fancy. Wearing jeans, a button down shirt with no tie with Asics gel sneakers will cause me to feel self-conscious while I lunch at luncheons. At my next Mayoral Luncheon, I will wear a dark wool suit with brown leather shoes, even if it is 112 degrees outside.
Ten place settings at a table meant to seat eight makes for very cozy lunching. My drink glass is on the right, right? It's hard to tell when two appear to be directly in front of me.
Crawford gave some opening remarks and referred to downtown as the epicenter of Dallas. When he spoke about growth a vibrancy, the whole room got quiet and was filled with Crawford's voice and the tinkling of silverware on hotel china. I enjoyed a salad of mixed greens with shaved fennel bulbs, parsley and grape tomatoes that burst in my mouth like tiny water balloons filled with summer.
Rawlings talked about downtown Dallas in terms of five separate zones: The Arts District, Main Street, West End, The Farmers Market, and the area north of Deep Ellum.
Rawlings praised food trucks in the Arts District, pointing to the foot traffic associated with lunch business on the plaza. He's right. I've seen it myself. Hopefully the parking reform the mayor alluded too elsewhere in his speech will include low-cost parking options for food trucks all over downtown, outside the Arts District. That would likely stir more foot traffic, too.
The mayor talked about the need for increased development along Main Street and noted the Dallas Restaurant Group's contributions thus far. But casual dining options along Main Street are still sparse and mostly uninteresting. How about letting food trucks set up here as well?
If Downtown Dallas has the largest workforce in all of North Texas as the Mayor claimed in his speech, they deserve access to robust and fun lunch options. Food trucks can provide this. And they can start tomorrow. And I can eat at them in my sneakers and a t-shirt -- no tie required.