On Tuesday morning, news broke that employees from both Smyth and Cedars Social, two of Dallas' finer cocktail bars, had staged a walkout, temporarily shuttering both bars. The unnamed employees complained at an unnamed pub, according to the Central Track story, citing creative differences as the reason for their hastened departure.
Later that day, D posted a statement from Brian Williams -- the first official announcement that confirmed that Michael Martensen, the cocktail wizard at both bars, had indeed left them and the soon-to-open Establishment. Williams' statement was careful and flowery, offering support and wishing Martensen success in his future endeavors. Williams also noted that Smyth would be closed for a week to bring in additional bartenders and management.
By the time Williams talked to The Dallas Morning News the following day, the closure had stretched to two weeks, until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Martensen also chimed in to confirm he and his staff had left to pursue new opportunities that had presented themselves over the past few months. What was missing was the size of the staff Martensen was talking about.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I knew a little bit, what was going on," Williams said, before confirming the entire bar staff at both Smyth and Cedar Social had flown the coop. An ad for craft bartenders went up on Craigslist on Monday. Williams said he had to scramble initially but is confident moving forward. He's kept Cedars Social open with temporary bartenders while he looks for replacements.
At Smyth especially, where drinks are crafted to order based on a customer's every whim, the bartenders working behind the bar are fundamental to the overall customer experience. Cedars Social leans on that same craft cocktail experience to a lesser extent, but a run-of-the-mill shot slinger from Sfuzzi would have trouble behind that bar, too. Williams will have his hands full re-staffing his bars.
Martensen declined to speak by phone. He wrote in an email that lawyers were involved and his departure was six months in the making. Neither party wants to discuss the issues that broke up their years-long partnership, but too much turbulence in any cocktail shaker always makes for cloudy drinking.