Restaurant rejuvenation

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Hoochie's Oyster House in Denton will move from a small, colorful building on Bell Avenue to Hickory Street where Burguesa Burger once operated.
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More dining options expected to come to Denton as some close and others relocate

Out with the old, in with the new.

More dining options are coming to Denton, and several new restaurants are expected to open soon, some taking the places of now-closed eateries and others relocating.

Aimee Bissett, director of economic development in Denton, said the restaurant and retail industries are in growth mode, and want to join the city.

“Just generally speaking from an economic development standpoint, we’ve seen a major uptick in Denton from the retail and industrial perspective,” Bissett said. “It’s exciting, but it’s been a major upswing in terms of what’s going on at the chamber and my office.”

Hoochie’s Oyster House will move from a small, colorful building on Bell Avenue to Hickory Street where Burguesa Burger once operated. When the current lease is up in May, owner Sam Solomon said he will take the business and most of the menu to the new location closer to the Square.

“I just believe that we’ll get more walk-in traffic and more interior room, so people will be more comfortable walking in than a place with just picnic benches inside,” Solomon said.

He hopes the new location will bring in more steady traffic than Hoochie’s currently has during the winter months as well, while maintaining the level of food quality and service.

Another project is expected to come to Hickory Street this year, though the details aren’t certain. A few entrepreneurs recently purchased the building where Barney’s Auto Parts stood for more than 50 years, and hope to turn it into a bar.

“It’s a really unique concept, and I don’t know how much of it will be a restaurant; it’s more of a bar,” said Alex Payne, who leased the space.

The new occupants anticipate renovating and expanding the current structure, and plan to open in the late summer or fall.

Payne also just leased out Denton Square Donuts, after Painting With a Twist approached him wanting the space.

“This is the third owner of [Denton Square Donuts] in three years, and this last owner tried to make a go of it but was losing money,” Payne said. “We had an interested party we thought would be a good fit, and asked if he wanted to get out of the lease early.”

The doughnut shop closed its doors Feb. 14, and the new lease is effective Monday.

Painting With a Twist, a franchise that has painters teach how-to lessons for all levels while attendees drink their own alcohol, hopes to open by May.

A new restaurant is also set to debut nearby on the Square the first week of March, Cafe Herrera’s. The restaurant will feature Tex-Mex food and signature cocktails, and will be a sister restaurant for Herrera’s in Dallas.

Franchised eateries are also making their way to Denton. Cafe Brazil, a local chain with international cuisine and a diverse coffee bar, is hoping to open by the end of March on West University Drive, the former location of Pizza Inn.

Minor interior renovations are underway before more visual additions and decorations are added to the space, said Allison Wood of Cafe Brazil marketing.

“There’s not major construction going on, but the kitchen is being reconfigured and we’re doing some cosmetic work,” she said.

While Cafe Brazil doesn’t have a set date to open or hours set, the company is looking for servers and kitchen staff. Currently, the company is exploring whether to have the restaurant remain open 24 hours a day all week, 24 hours on the weekends or just operate at late hours.

“We’re super excited about being in Denton,” Wood said. “It’s an area where we’ve been looking for the right spot for a long time. We’re excited to be there.”

Other franchises are expected to come to Denton this year, though they are not as far in the planning processes as Cafe Brazil. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has posted job openings with an address at Rayzor Ranch, and BJ’s Brewhouse restaurant is working to get construction permits to build a location at Unicorn Lake, city officials said.

Joining BJ’s at Unicorn Lake will be Rising Star Cafe, which will take the place of Cafe Du Luxe. The cafe will have the same coffee that was featured by its predecessor, and a new menu of fresh foods and baked goods, owner Adam Ekleberry said.

“It’s going to be a regular cafe concept with lots of sandwiches and baked goods, too, like cupcakes and pies made with seasonal stuff,” he said. “Everything is going to be as fresh as possible.”

This is the first restaurant venture for Ekleberry, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts who specializes in pastries and baked goods, with the help of his father, Daniel.

Items will be prepared as freshly as they can be, from hamburger buns to English muffins baked every morning to the beef for burgers being ground in the kitchen.

They hope to open in April, and once they obtain the proper permits they hope to let local public service workers such as police officers and firefighters eat for free in exchange for feedback on the products, Ekleberry said.

“You work for your money, and you have to buy food,” he said. “You have to eat. And if I can offer fresh food and you can get it for the same price as processed food, then I’m doing my job right.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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