For 33 years, The Palm has fed West End diners 24-ounce prime bone-in rib-eye steaks and seven-layer dark chocolate cake. The restaurant on 701 Ross Ave. has hosted decades of birthday parties, first dates, business lunches, anniversary dinners. But on Thursday, June 1, owners Wally Ganzi and Bruce Bozzi Jr. informed patrons via email that come June 30, the West End mainstay will close.
“Unfortunately, we’ve come to the decision that it is no longer viable for us to operate a restaurant at this location,” the statement read. “This is a decision that was very difficult for us. Recent events, however, have left us concerned for the safety and welfare of our valued customers and staff.”
The decision rippled across the Dallas dining scene, but more than anything, it left people wondering: What are these "recent events" that left The Palm's management concerned about safety in the West End?
“Overall, we don’t have one specific incident we can point to,” said Karen LuKanic, chief marking officer of The Palm. She said The Palm hoped to concurrently announce a new location with the announcement of the Ross Ave. closing, but there is currently no new location. At the moment, LuKanic added, there is no timeline for a potential reopening, but The Palm is actively looking.
Some have wondered if the July 7, 2016, shooting of four Dallas police officers and one DART officer played a role in the restaurant’s closing. The incident occurred at El Centro College on the corner of Main Street and Lamar Street, less than half a mile from The Palm. But LuKanic reiterated that “overall, [The Palm] can’t point to one thing” that led to the decision to the close, which raises more questions than it answers.
In an interview with NBC 5 (KXAS-TV), City Councilman Phillip Kingston speculated that crime isn't The Palm's primary reason for leaving the neighborhood.
"Crime that has occurred there is down compared to a few years ago. The rents are up, which I suspect has more to do with why they're leaving. Everybody who has a restaurant fail wants to create an excuse why it's somebody else's fault, but it's always never true," Kingston said.
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The Palm isn’t the only restaurant last week to blame — at least in part — outside factors for owners' decisions to close. On Cedar Springs, bar and brunch spot Cedar Grove closed after Memorial Day weekend, and owner Tim McEneny claimed environmental factors played a role.
"I'm not gonna blame the neighborhood or the city, but we've had crime-related problems down there that entered businesses, and the homeless situation there seems to be escalating," he said in an interview with the Observer last week.
Until the new location of The Palm opens, frequent patrons of the restaurant — many of whom have their caricatures painted on the walls — will be left wondering what exactly led to the closing of one of their favorite restaurants.
“The Palm has been my go-to place to eat for two decades,” says Dallas attorney Darrell W. Cook, whose caricature appears on a wall of the restaurant. “John Brown, perhaps the best waiter in town, has been ‘my guy’ for that entire time. It’s like a member of the family moving away.”