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Year in Review: What's Open, What's Closed

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Staff report

Another year has come and gone while Denton keeps on changing. We’ve had to say goodbye to several of our favorite stores and restaurants, but we’re excited to see what the new faces in town have to offer in 2018. Take a look back at what we loved and lost this year (cue sad Sarah McLachlan music):

After 60 years, Weldon’s Saddle Shop and Western Wear rode off into the sunset in January. Owner Weldon Burgoon decided to retire and, after talking it over with his pastor, sold his 345 E. Hickory St. storefront to Applejacks Liquors, which opened in June.

While a lot of Texans maintain that Whataburger is superior, California expats and burger enthusiasts have been able to get their Double-Double fix ever since In-N-Out opened in February at Rayzor Ranch Town Center on University Drive.

Denton’s grocery store landscape morphed quite a bit this year. The 800,000-square-foot WinCo Distribution Center opened in February at Rayzor Ranch Town Center. The all-natural store Green Foods Nutrition also opened in February at 405 Fort Worth Drive, but shuttered its doors three months later. Micro-grocer Blue Bag Market opened downtown at 503 S. Locust August, while discount store Aldi opened a second Denton location in September at 1317 Ector St.

But the real question is, will we ever get an HEB?

Argyle’s culinary options expanded with the addition of Kimzey's Coffee and Bumbershoot Barbecue at the intersection of U.S. Highway 377 and FM407 near Earl's 377 Pizza. Kimzey’s opened in March as West Oak Coffee Bar’s sister shop. Bumbershoot followed in April as a food truck-style park.

We're getting a huge entertainment center. Andy B's, from Missouri, announced plans for a 41,000-square-foot entertainment center at Rayzor Ranch Town Center, set to open next fall. Features will include bowling, laser tag and tons of games.

We’re also getting a huge furniture store. A 40,000-square-foot Rooms to Go will open at Rayzor Ranch Town Center in the spring. Features will include bed frames, couches and a nice credenza your aunt will find quite tasteful.

In movie theater news, Movie Tavern completed its renovations in March by adding more screens, reclining seats and a new menu. But there’s also a new kid coming to town. Construction has started on the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at Rayzor Ranch Town Center. The theater is expected to open by fall 2018.

Denton has one less place to get its Cajun food fix. Dani Rae’s Gulf Coast Kitchen closed at the end of May after eight years of business. The expansion of Interstate 35E has made the building no longer operable. The restaurant’s owners tried to find another location but couldn't find anything in their price range.

The owners of The Candy Store at 110 W. Oak St. decided to retire in April and closed up shop. They sold their storefront to Denton Vape Parlor, which opened in July. Some of the barbers from The Bearded Lady are now permanently inside the space, although barbers still staff the truck behind East Side Denton.

Some homestyle staples decided to play musical chairs with their restaurant locations. Old West Cafe doubled its seating area when it moved to the former Black-eyed Pea off Interstate 35E near Lillian Miller Parkway in March. Cartwright's Cafe, a new concept from Cartwright's Ranch House, moved into Old West’s former location at 1020 Dallas Drive in August.

Downtown Denton has also found more space for folks to throw their own shindigs. For more intimate affairs, Venue on the Square opened in August above First People's Jewelers. The aptly named space holds about 40 guests and can be rented by the hour. For larger events or weddings, booking is open for the Monroe Pearson building on East Oak Street. The 21,000-square-foot space — once a grocery warehouse — will start hosting events in April.

After months of hype and speculation, Spiral Diner & Bakery opened its Denton location in September. The all-vegan restaurant took up some space in the mixed-use Railyard development at 608 E. Hickory St. The owners of The Bowllery, another popular spot for Denton vegans and vegetarians on Avenue C, announced its closure in December after they lost their lease.

Crossroads Bar is now Crossroads Cocktails and Karaoke, featuring a new name and larger space, at 1125 E. University Drive — the same strip center as the former Mable Peabody's Beauty Parlor & Chainsaw Repair, which closed in September to the chagrin of many in the LGBTQ community. Crossroads will continue to host drag shows on Sunday nights and regular karaoke nights.

A few more Asian food options are expanding to our neck of the woods. Rock N Roll Sushi opened in mid-November at 321 W. Hickory St. Rick Villarreal, former athletic director of the University of North Texas, franchised the business to bring it to Denton after seeing successful locations in Alabama and Mississippi. Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant with locations in Fort Worth and Carrollton, is expected to open soon just down the street from Rock N Roll at 501 W. Hickory St.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center opened the first week of December at Rayzor Ranch Town Center. The hotel and convention center has already booked about $3 million in business as far out as 2024.

TB Winds opened on the Square in November, saving Denton-area musicians from having to drive all over Dallas-Fort Worth for instrument repair and supplies. Owners Tony Barrette and Jen Guzman offer service to walk-in customers and by appointment on the second floor at 112 W. Oak St.

It seems like now might be a good time for Dunder Mifflin to expand its brick-and-mortar operations. Office supply store Staples closed its only Denton location on Colorado Boulevard back in September. Its competitor OfficeMax closed its Loop 288 location and consolidated to its sister location, Office Depot, at 2300 San Jacinto Plaza.

Finally, any business section led by our own Jenna Duncan would be remiss not to mention the rockiness of the Denton beer scene this year. Beer store, bar and music venue Lone Star Taps & Caps shuttered in July after owners said profits at the Denton location were steadily declining. Baron's Brewwerks, the only wine and beer making supply store in Denton, closed in September. Dennis Wood, the store's owner, posted online to say Denton wasn't ready to sustain that type of business, but thanked his loyal customers for coming by the shop.

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t shed a tear over the closure of Denton’s first brewery, Audacity Brew House, which shut down its taproom in November after three years in business. Owner Doug Smith said the brewery closed because of investor disagreements. But the beer Audacity developed with Texas Motor Speedway, No Limits Checkered Past Texas Ale, is owned by the Denton County speedway and there are plans to have it brewed elsewhere.

There’s a ray of hope on the hops-filled horizon, though. Denton County Brewing Co. opened in May at 200 E. McKinney St. The brewpub is serving up its own creations alongside a curated selection of other beers and wine — which can also be ordered to go.