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Will New Stockyards Concept Work?


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#1 vjackson

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:37 AM

Spencer’s Last Fling
A veteran entrepreneur launches a Stockyards concept that’s as fresh as 1982 — but hey, it could still work.

By DAN MCGRAW Photos By Naomi Vaughan


Over lunch at the Star Café in Fort Worth’s Stockyards, Spencer Taylor is in one of his moods. He is upbeat and joking with the reporter, slyly deflecting questions about his latest project. The legendary bar owner, one of the founders of Billy Bob’s, creator of the Dallas Alley and other “entertainment complexes” in five states, is the master of the hype. In this case, he knows that overconfidence will come off as arrogance or smugness.

His latest project could transform the Stockyards — not the Billy Bob’s and family-friendly Stockyards’ Station side of things, but the western part of the district that has long been in a state of flux. He has leased five bar sites on West Exchange Street, from which he will carve out six different bars and a special VIP club. Taylor’s clubs won’t cater to the boot-scooters, the hip-hop crowd, or the tourists. He wants to attract a different group of locals to the Stockyards, more of the casual urban crowd that likes karaoke and sports bars, the ones who might need the VIP club to reinforce their self-image.

This section of West Exchange, that little hillside between Main Street and Ellis Avenue, has been known for fights, cruising gangs in recent years, and bars that have long focused on cowboys, both real and pretend. Years ago, Fort Worth locals would get out their Wrangler jeans and pressed shirts and run down to the Stockyards for their weekend country-western fix, but in recent years, the cowboy act has become less fashionable. Of late, this part of the Stockyards has become known for hip-hop bars and dance clubs catering to younger minorities. But those clubs aren’t having a lot of success either.

The big question is, can Taylor can convince Fort Worth locals, who have so many on-the-town choices, to change their habits, from going downtown or hanging out in Dallas to choosing the Stockyards for a karaoke or sports bar or a dueling piano joint?”We’ll see,” Taylor answers, smiling.

Is the timing right for a $4-to-$7 cover charge for admission to clubs based on a concept that some consider rather dated? “We’ll see,” he says again with a laugh.

And what about drawing locals down for $1-a-drink happy hours from 5 to 8 pm every day, and getting them to drive from their workplace to do it? Same answer, same smile.

“In this business — and I’ve been doing it for such a long time — it is always a big risk,” Taylor said. “We have done our research and think that the timing is right for this. But the state [comptroller’s office] has found that the average liquor permit lasts 18 months. So the odds work against you.”

Here is what Spencer Taylor is betting on: Fort Worth’s population is growing exponentially, but the city still has no defined entertainment district that locals flock to for bar-hopping. He believes that in the last few years, hip-hop and dance clubs in the Stockyards have driven off more customers than they’ve drawn. Taylor thinks Fort Worth is ready for his brand of club-hopping — walking bar to bar in an area with a lot of choices for food, drink, and music. He believes he can divert the Southlake and Colleyville crowd to come down I-35W to the Stockyards instead of following Highway 114 into Dallas.

That’s one theory. But there are those in the club business in the Stockyards who truly believe this Spencer Taylor project will fall flat — and quickly. Their reasoning is that locals have historically perceived the western part of the Stockyards in two ways: as a hangout for tourists, and as a base for rednecks from the western hinterlands who come to be nasty, get loaded, and start fights.

The Stockyards is something of an island, both in physical and cultural terms. Most big city entertainment districts — like Rush Street in Chicago, Bourbon Street in New Orleans or North Beach in San Francisco — are physically connected to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The Stockyards is a drive from downtown, and seems to want little to do with the Hispanic community that surrounds it.

Then there is the country-western element. The clubs catering to that cowboy crowd — real ones or fake — still dominate. But mix in the college crowd and the tourists, and you have a social equation that many locals, particularly the rich, white Westside drinkers, want to avoid.

And that’s the demographic Taylor is courting with his latest venture. When he started out with Spencer’s Palace near TCU in 1973, when liquor by the drink first got going in Tarrant County, he was a big drinker and very ego-driven. He is 60 now, hasn’t had a drink in almost 25 years, and wants his last go-round to be something for his children. In fact, he is naming three of the bars after his kids.

“I was young and ambitious and really into sex and drugs and rock-n-roll back then,” Taylor said. “Back then it was all about ego. You put yourself first. We loved the attention. But I’m too old for that now. I’m just very happy to be doing this in Fort Worth at this time, because I am from this city and really love this town, and I want this to be the last project we ever do.”

Will he go out a winner or a loser? Will it be over in the 18 months that the average bar lasts in this state, or will Spencer Taylor and his children be running this project when he hits 70? This is a business with too many spokes radiating from that spinning wheel. Too many variables. Because what is fashionable in the bar business can change in an instant.



The cluster-bar concept is nothing new; Taylor has done this before. The West Exchange entertainment complex he is launching on June 29 is not that different from Dallas Alley in that city’s downtown West End, which Taylor helped start in 1986 and which eventually grew to include 10 nightclubs. Dallas Alley had sing-along piano bars and music clubs and dance venues and restaurants, and one cover charge gained admission to them all. For about a decade it flourished, grossing more cash per square foot than any liquor joint in the state. But by 2001, Dallas Alley had run out of gas; there’s nothing left of it now. Taylor, however, has always been good at making timely exits: He left in 1990.

The West Exchange concept is similar, though not all the clubs will be under one roof. The former Longhorn Saloon will be split into three clubs: Grace Live, a live-music venue named for his 14-year-old daughter; G-Dub’s, a sports bar named for investor and KTCK sports talk radio host, Greg Williams; and Tricky’s Cowgirls, a version of Coyote Ugly where the female bartenders will wear more than at the original Coyote that opened in New York in 1993. The sports bar will sit in the middle, with access to the music on one side and dancing barmaids on the other.

A few buildings down will be Spinner’s Blues Bar, a rhythm-and-blues club in the basement of the building that houses the Star Café. (Spinner’s is the nickname of his 23-year-old son, Spencer, who is the project’s general manager.) On the other side of the street, in the club that was most recently Stone Canyon, two bars will operate: Widgie’s Karaoke Bar, using the nickname of Taylor’s 11-year-old daughter Faith, and Pat’s Dueling Pianos, a name borrowed from the famed club in New Orleans.

All the clubs will offer food, and the six-for-one cover charge won’t be applied until after happy hour. Taylor has leased 800 parking spaces within a few blocks’ radius, and valet parking will be available for about $4. Eventually, balconies will be added over the above-ground clubs on West Exchange, giving the street sort of a Mardi Gras atmosphere.

In the club that used to be Krave, on the corner of Ellis and Exchange, will be the West X Social Club, a VIP joint with a $500 membership fee, scheduled to open in mid-July.

Aside from the cover charges, Taylor is trying to offer a fairly cheap experience in West Exchange. Domestic longnecks will run $3.50, hard-liquor well drinks $3, and calls drinks $4. Taylor also wants to close his block of West Exchange Avenue every weekend (he needs city council approval), and hold special outdoor concerts on the street once a month.

“What happened to this part of the Stockyards, in my humble opinion, is some genius took my old Cowtown USA and put in gangster rap joints and got in trouble,” Taylor said. “What we have put together is seven different concepts, and the purpose is to bring the locals back to the Stockyards. These are tried and proven concepts ... concepts I have done in other states, and each will have a little touch of country.

“This is the most underdeveloped entertainment marketplace for any major city in the country, and certainly in the Metroplex,” he said. “But the changes are already happening. If we do this right, the growing market will embrace this. The Stockyards has proven it will always be here, and it doesn’t matter what they put in Dallas or any of the other cities in North Texas.”

Among Taylor’s strong points are his initial market research and the ability to get the right players on board. He and others say the two biggest problems in that part of the Stockyards have always been security and parking. He figures leasing the 800 parking places will solve the second, and he has been meeting with Fort Worth police to address the first.

Fort Worth Police Capt. Bill Read, in charge of the department’s Northside division, said he’s encouraged by the planning for the complex. Read also has a practical reason for warming up to the project. “It is much better to deal with one bar owner than seven,” he said. “And we like to take care of problems before they start, rather than after they happen.

“It doesn’t matter what type of clubs we are talking about here, it doesn’t matter what type of music is being played,” Read said. “The younger local people who go to these clubs can cause trouble, and that is just a fact of the business. My job is just to make sure they behave themselves, but we are not babysitters. ... I think what they are doing on this West Exchange development is moving to get a handle on their security before the problems arise.”

Taylor said he wants to build his security detail from off-duty police officers with at least 20 years experience, who can keep the peace with more finesse. “I want security guys who will tap a guy on the shoulder, and smile at him and tell him, ‘It’s time to go home,’” he said, rather than dealing with younger officers who tend to get too confrontational too fast.

Some of the former club owners who catered to younger black and Hispanic crowds say Fort Worth police pretty much ran them out of business. “We had TCU night, and the cops would be lining up on University Drive. pulling over everyone who looked under 25,” said Paul Lemon, one of the partners in Stone Canyon, which featured dance music. “I believe that the powers-that-be do not want that crowd in the Stockyards. It was what I call semi-prejudicial law enforcement — selective enforcement. If a fight occurs at the Cadillac Cantina and it is two good old boys, it is a slap on the hand and they send them on their way. When there are minorities involved in a fight, [police] consider it gang violence and arrests are made.”

Read said the clubs that featured dance and hip-hop music caused their own problems. “There was just too much underage drinking, and that is why they aren’t open anymore,” he said. “We treat everyone the same. But if you are serving minors or intoxicated people, you are going to have problems which eventually put you out of business. That’s what happened.”

But is there a prejudice at work that keeps youth- and minority-based bars out of the Stockyards’ old boys’ club? Property owner Steve Murrin, the acknowledged “Mayor of the Stockyards,” says that is not the case. But, he added, “It is the Stockyards, and our history says we should have a twinge of western down here. Some of these clubs had their own social problems, because they had the wrong crowd in the wrong spot. We have visitors and the cowboy culture and business people down here, and you have to have a balance.

“That’s why I am excited about what Spencer is doing,” Murrin said. “He is going to have a balance of what the business community is going to like, what the tourists will like, and what the locals want.”

Taylor said he is going to avoid most hip-hop and dance music. The bands performing at Grace Live will be pop rock, with canned country music played over the PA system between sets. “In my personal opinion, that gangster rap crap is sending a message to my children that I don’t want them listening to ... and drawing the wrong crowd,” he said.

He immediately realized how that would sound to many in the black and Hispanic communities. “I don’t have one ounce of prejudice in my body,” he said. “It is not about black or brown or white or yellow. There are redneck cowboys that I am going to tell to go somewhere else. Because all they want — when it is 12 o’clock on a Saturday night, and they can’t buy any more beer, and they have pissed off their chance with the girl of their dreams — all they want to do is fight. There is a bad element in every color that there is. It is not about racial prejudice. I’m just saying that if I go down the road with that kind of music, we won’t make it more than a few months.”

Still, he is going after a young crowd on many nights. Monday will be hospitality night, for those working in the restaurant and bar business. Wednesday will be sort of a dating night, with match.com and MySpace.com sponsoring events. Thursdays will be college night.

And that is why some people think Taylor will not succeed with this project. “He is just trying to be everything to everyone, and that never makes it,” Lemon said. “You cannot mix the college crowd with the tourist crowd, and the more mature customer doesn’t want to hang with that nonsense that the young people bring. I just don’t think you will get people to come down here to go to a piano bar. This part of the Stockyards has always catered to the younger drinkers, and I just don’t think what he is planning will get enough of them.”

The younger crowd is huge for any nightclub. They tend to drink more and stay later than the older folks. The rule most clubs seem to follow is to play the kind of music that young women like, to get them out on the dance floor shakin’ it — and to draw the young men who sit on the sidelines watching and drinking. The resulting alcohol-induced bliss drives the entertainment bus. But the starting point is the music, and young people like what is popular. Right now, that is hip-hop, and there will be none of that, and very little dance-floor space, in Taylor’s new venture.

When a newspaper photographer showed up to take Lemon’s picture for this article, he emphasized his skepticism about West Exchange by turning up in his Evel Knievel getup. “If Spencer Taylor can sell investors on sinking money into the Fort Worth Stockyards, I’ll sell tickets to jump the Trinity River in 2011 for the kick-off of the Super Bowl,” Lemon said.



Darren Rhea has been in the Stockyards bar business since 1994. His current club, Neon Moon, is in the eastern sector, near Billy Bob’s. His crowd is younger, and the joint offers mostly hip-hop and dance music. He also likes to throw in a little naughty fun, like “dirty schoolgirl night,” when the young women dress up in Catholic school uniforms. He also has a “pajama night” where, well, you get the idea.

Rhea, 42, said the Stockyards really never changes that much — the economy is based mostly on an older tourist crowd during the day and a younger drinking crowd at night. And he calls it a “saturated market.” He said the crowds follow a pattern: “Minors go to PR’s first because they let them in without drinking. Then they hang out at Neon Moon in their early 20s, until they get married. After their first divorce, they hang out at the Cadillac Cantina. After their second divorce they go to the Rodeo Exchange. And after that, they are either too old or don’t have any more money, so they stay home and drink in their neighborhood.

“I just think [Taylor] is so far out of it right now,” Rhea said. “You just have to realize the people that come down to the Stockyards don’t want to pay a cover charge. I charge adults $3 to get in on the weekends, and if I went up to $5, I would lose half of them. And you can’t try to mix the older crowd in with a younger crowd. I just get the feeling he is trying to be all things to all people, and that never works.

“I would like nothing more than someone to take the west end of Exchange Avenue and develop it right and bring new people to the Stockyards,” he said. “When I first heard he was going down there, I said great, we can keep the drug dealers from buying bars. But when I saw the details, it is a cookie-cutter pattern from the 1980s and 1990s and he expects people to be running down there. If you think you are going to have a 30-year-old guy spend $7 to sit in a sports bar and stare at his drink, you’ll be out of business.”

Rhea also thinks Taylor is making a fatal move in catering to the Stockyards establishment. “He wants to do Coyote Ugly, but he knows the older crowd doesn’t want to have girls in their panties dancing on the bar. So he clamps it down so Steve Murrin will be on board. But you have to be aware of how music changes and the market changes, regardless of how old you are.

“The older gang down here has their own view of what this entertainment area should be, and they are very out of it,” Rhea said. “They perceive it as a country version of Disneyland. It is their perception of the Old West. But Spencer Taylor doesn’t seem to be either in the present or in the past. He isn’t doing the western theme, nor will he draw anyone under 30. And if he thinks the soccer moms from Southlake are going to run down there with a fistful of dollars to sing karaoke, he might be delusional.”

Lemon agrees. “The hip-hop crowd brings its own share of problems, and that was part of the reason we closed,” he acknowledged. “But what he is offering here is being offered everywhere else. I don’t think anyone is going to drive down to the Stockyards for happy hour when they can go to a bar near their work or in their neighborhood. And no one likes to pay covers anymore unless they are seeing a top band.

“The Stockyards is only a destination for locals when they want to cut loose on the weekends,” Lemon said. “But even that is tough. The locals don’t want to be spending time in a place that is perceived as a tourist destination. The Stockyards is also thought of as a place with a crime problem and not enough parking close by. I just can’t see the crowd he is going after changing their thinking on this. The Stockyards is just a very weird market, and it is very tough to break through all those difficulties unless you can get the younger people.”

Taylor doesn’t deny that his is a risky venture — but so is every nightclub operation. “I’m pretty comfortable with the research we’ve done, and I think the market forces will support this concept,” he said. “I’ve been in this business for 34 years, and I think I know what works and doesn’t.”

His track record supports that contention — or at least that he knows what will work for a while.



Greg Williams, the sports talk radio host for KTCK “The Ticket,” first started working as a bar stocker for Taylor at Spencer’s Palace in the 1970s. “Back then he was a big drinker, always having a Jack Daniels and soda with a splash of Coke in a tall glass,” Williams said.

After that, Williams moved with Taylor to bartend at Billy Bob’s, when Spencer and Billy Bob Barnett opened the club in 1981. “Everyone in town who worked as a bartender wanted to work for Spencer,” Williams said. “You knew he was going to make money. And if he made money, you were going to make money too.”

“The Stockyards has always been about hard liquor, handguns and knives,” Williams said. “But he can change that image and make this a destination point for the locals in Fort Worth. I didn’t invest in this project, I invested in Spencer Taylor. Because his history is that he has conquered Fort Worth and Dallas and New Orleans and Minneapolis and Deadwood, South Dakota. And I have the utmost confidence in him that he will be doing it again here in Fort Worth.”

It’s true that Taylor has had few long-term success stories. But that is also true of the entire entertainment industry. Clubs and bars go in and out of style, and smart club owners smell the coffee early and move on before the creditors start hanging around the front door.

From 1973 to 1980, in addition to Spencer’s Palace, he owned Spencer’s Corner, also near TCU, and Players in Arlington. From 1980 to 1982, he ran four bars in the West Exchange area of the Stockyards. Barnett brought him over to open Billy Bob’s in 1981. By 1984, Taylor had moved on to Dallas Alley.

Barnett wanted to tap into the casino gambling that was starting in New Orleans in the early 1990s, so Taylor was hired to launch four bars in the Big Easy, including Cat’s Meow, which went on to lead the state in alcohol sales. But then things got a little murky. In 1991, Barnett was planning an entertainment complex in Minneapolis called “Mississippi Live.” Barnett and Taylor took an old shopping mall and converted it into a multi-club/restaurant complex. But it was dogged by problems with underage drinking, and now the complex is mostly office space.

Taylor worked as a consultant for a Las Vegas casino from 1995 to 1997 and did some consulting for Gilley’s, the Houston-area honky-tonk that gained fame from the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy and was expanding into Dallas. Then it was up to Deadwood, S.D., — which had just approved gambling — to handle operations for Fort Worth investor Bill McDavid, who wanted to turn an old factory into a hotel casino and concert venue. That venue never got going, and McDavid is now selling the property to new investors.

In 2003, Taylor got together with Barnett again on Dallas City Limits, a proposed $250 million entertainment center that would have brought a little Cowtown feel to big D, with a concert venue, rodeo arena, and luxury corporate suites next to Reunion Arena. But the project died in 2006 because the Dallas City Council wouldn’t come through with the $20 million in tax breaks that Taylor and Barnett were seeking.

After Dallas City Limits fell apart, Taylor did some consulting work for an entertainment venue in Addison. About eight months ago, he learned of some vacancies on West Exchange and decided this might be his last chance. Twice divorced, bankrupt once in the 1990s, just turned 60, and still with a lot of energy, he jumped in. He won’t disclose the investors in the project, aside from Greg Williams and local architect Kenneth Schaumburg, who is overseeing some of the interior renovation work.

The six clubs due to open at the end of this month — plus the VIP club in July — will make up Phase 1, to be followed by two more phases a few years down the line. Taylor isn’t disclosing what those projects will be but said the entire investment will be about $2.3 million when all is said and done.

So why did he hop around from project to project for all those years? North Texas real estate developer Preston Carter, Taylor’s old partner in Dallas Alley, told the Dallas Observer in 2004 that Taylor is “an absolute genius as far as laying out a club and an entertainment complex. But he’s real artistic and creative, which means he’s a terrible manager.”

Taylor doesn’t buy that argument. He’s well-known for his inventory systems, for instance, and for his guidance of employees, he said. He moved around because “you have to put food on the table, and I also like the challenge of starting new ventures.

“This is a very tough business, and you have to be prepared for concepts that work and those that don’t,” he said. “But I see this project differently. I want to stay in for the long haul. I want my kids to be involved, because they are very special to me.”

Taylor’s dealings with Barnett and others in the past have often involved entertainment properties near new gaming markets. In fact, Barnett, has been one of the biggest proponents of casino gambling in Texas in recent years. His Nevada-based investment firm, Big City Capital LLC, spent $1.4 million on 10 gaming lobbyists in Austin last year, according to state records. Stockyards real estate developer Holt Hickman has also been a big proponent of bringing casino gaming to Cowtown.

Neither Barnett or Hickman returned calls for this story. But some of those watching Taylor’s new play figure his backers must include the people who want to bring gambling to the Stockyards and want to get their entertainment ducks in a row before that happens.

Taylor said neither Barnett nor Hickman are involved this time. “The whole gambling question is also sort of way down the line. It has to pass the Legislature, and then get approved by voters, and then [there is] all the time it takes to build [the casinos]. Even if it did pass quickly, it would be more than five years before anything opened. We’re opening this month.”



Walking through the new clubs with Taylor, with all the power saws wailing and painters painting, one comes to the conclusion that he is a pretty smart and energetic guy. He spends most of his weekend nights now trolling the other Stockyards clubs, making notes on crowds and music and beer prices. And he can recite numbers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on which bar sold how much booze last year.

Still, in some ways, he is part of another time period. When he did all those clubs in the 1970s, they were the new and trendy spots. Billy Bob’s was the first of its kind, a huge concert venue mixed with the local bar scene. Even Dallas Alley was groundbreaking in some ways, mixing so many different styles of clubs and balancing tourists and trendsetters. But this project is more middle-of-the-road. Maybe over time he has come to trust the tried-and-true concepts more than the new-and-dangerous.

He is taking advice, especially from his son Spinner. He wasn’t sure at first he wanted to cooperate for this story. The Fort Worth power tribe — especially at city hall — isn’t enamored with Fort Worth Weekly, and Taylor figured he didn’t need to ruffle any feathers. “But Spinner told me that this is something we had to do, because everyone in his age group reads the Weekly,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know that, but he did. That’s why he’s working with me.”

Then he started singing “Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show — circa 1972.

Some folks see Taylor as just trying to stuff as much money in his pocket as possible. But if that’s so, it is surely true to Stockyards tradition. This part of Cowtown has always been about making money, whether the merchandise was cows, the cowboy myth, belt buckles, or beers. Taylor’s project could create a place in the Stockyards where locals want to come once more, for outdoor concerts and indoor drinking.

“Do we know how this is going to turn out?” Taylor said. “Nah. But we will work hard, because this project is very near and dear to me. Check back with us in August. We’ll probably have a pretty good idea by then.”


You can reach Dan McGraw at danielmcgraw@sbcglobal.net.



#2 vjackson

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:02 AM

Brilliant..Model a bar after Coyote Ugly, but make the female bartenders wear MORE clothes. That'll pack em in!! LOL!!! LOL!!!

This concept is old and tired and FW already does it at City Streets.

And get off the notion that only black and hispanics listen to hip hop. Maybe in FW, but you can go to several clubs and bars in Dallas that you can hear hip hop booming from outside, step inside and the bar is full of lily white kids. I was at one last night.

#3 youngalum

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:41 AM

Never work. It will be dead in 18 months.

#4 texastrill

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 12:51 PM

QUOTE(vjackson @ Jun 7 2007, 12:02 PM) View Post

And get off the notion that only black and hispanics listen to hip hop. Maybe in FW, but you can go to several clubs and bars in Dallas that you can hear hip hop booming from outside, step inside and the bar is full of lily white kids. I was at one last night.

No,only rich,white Westside drinkers dont listen to hip-hop and thats the demo. hes going for.So I guess I'm pretty much out of the equation.Oh well,I'll just eat my steak then go home and drink my beer.
T E X A S T R I L L - G O C O W B O Y S

#5 cjyoung

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:48 PM

QUOTE(vjackson @ Jun 7 2007, 12:02 PM) View Post

And get off the notion that only black and hispanics listen to hip hop. Maybe in FW, but you can go to several clubs and bars in Dallas that you can hear hip hop booming from outside, step inside and the bar is full of lily white kids. I was at one last night.


Maybe in FW?

Almost everyone listens to hip hop, from my 60 year old father to my country a$$ clients (physicians) in rural parts of Texas, Lousiana, and Oklahoma.

It's kinda funny, because when I started rapping in the 7th grade ('81), I rarely met anyone white who liked rap->hip hop, even in gigantic, most urban, progressive, best of the best -- Dallas. tongue.gif

Most of today's rappers are no more than dumb minstrel show actors who are dead set on destroying the african-negroid-negro-black-afro american-african american-afro cuban-afro brazillian-afro latino race. wacko.gif

#6 Sam Stone

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 05:20 PM

I think the powers that be in the Stockyards have some antiquated notions about musical tastes. In that, they misplace the causes of the disorder problems in the Stockyards. In my whole FW life, I've only spent a handful of nights at Stockyards bars. The only time I've ever had a stranger pick a fight with me in a bar was in the Stockyards. I'm a pretty easy going guy and no stranger to the bar scene so I think this demonstrates something about the atmosphere there. That bar, BTW, was playing country and pop, but no hip hop.

This plan that Taylor has could very well work depending on who he's really going to be marketing to. The article talks about rich west side drinkers, but Taylor doesn't seem say that's his target audience. I imagine that there are probably a lot of people in the northern suburbs (Keller, Watauga, Southlake, etc.) who might very well venture down to the Stockyards for the kinds of clubs he's opening. The northern suburbs seem to be filled with a lot of transplants who are kind of like tourists when it comes to their familiarity with FW.

Or it could totally flop. Who knows? It's always going to be like that in the stockyards until a more comprehensive approach to development is taken. As the article mentions, the area is not well integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods, nor does it have a diverse economy (basically, just tourism and bars). But it's not just a matter of attracting a more diverse mix of businesses. The biggest impediments to the development are infrastructure related. The area is physically cut off from the surrounding neighborhoods by RR tracks, creeks, poorly planned roads and parking lots, and vacant or abandoned properties.

#7 safly

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 03:03 AM

Oh Spence. If he REALLY Had a HEART for good ol Cowtown USA, then he should help directly with improving those run down pockets of poverty lining up that end of town.

Making FWortheners line up for his waterin holes at the age of 60 something just shows me a man who cannot find himself being any important to FW history and class without luring "them folks" in to get HAMMERED or Liq-ered Up. I give it 10 months. Sorry, but that action is occuring and staying IMHO in SoHo.

If they want to play "Cowboy Dress Up" in their starched Mavi jeans, white dry-cleaned button ups, with their clean fresh hats and get hammered and enjoy drinks, well they are already doing it at Joe T's.

His PERCEIVED demograph is most likely similiar to that IDIOT I saw on the Food Network's show (Food Finds) the other day during a 2004 taping involving Dallas and Fort Worth "hotspots". Of course Joe T's represented THE FW Tradition of Tex-Mex. Well, this guy (right down central casting for a middle aged FW'ian Joe T fanatic) stated " Forget about San Antonio, forget about Austin. The REAL Mexican food office is right here at Joe T's." I swear I was about to throw my shoe at the TV and go and find (with one shoe on) that guy, bring him to the ALAMO City, and tar and feather him in front of all the NBA Finals fans who were getting wasted (The SA way) along the Riverwalk.

Yes, even three years later, No statute of limitations on "fightin words" like that.
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#8 seurto

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:02 AM

I think this will be interesting to watch develop - let me just throw some thoughts in for fodder -
While I don't think that consciously or specifically Spencer is going after the "aging baby boomer crowd" (pee-yew, tongue.gif I hate using that term, especially since I'm kinda in that crowd), I'd venture to say a huge majority of people around my age (45-60+), knows who Spencer Taylor is and has been to one of his original bars (whether or not they actually remember it cool.gif . Now, I've gotta say, I wasn't a bar hopper back in those days, but did have occasion to go into the Palace once or twice. I think for nostalgia sake, there is the possibility of a fairly strong start. Whether it will continue and/or how will it evolve is a whole 'nother banana boat. I realize youth powers these kinds of ventures, but there might be a crowd that would be interested in a place that (1) is safe enough for a ladies nite out, (2) somewhat reminiscent of the "good ol days" without being cheesy, and (3) affordable.
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#9 cberen1

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 04:33 PM

QUOTE(cjyoung @ Jun 7 2007, 03:48 PM) View Post

Almost everyone listens to hip hop, from my 60 year old father to my country a$$ clients (physicians) in rural parts of Texas, Lousiana, and Oklahoma.


Makes you wonder how all the tejano and pop radio stations stay in business? unsure.gif

Spencer didn't close the hip-hop clubs, they closed themselves. So if Spencer sees country bars that make money, and hip-hop establishments that obviously didn't, how can you fault him for not wanting to open a hip-hop place regardless of his prejudice?

I think you have to take a wait and see approach to this. He sounds like he is fairly well capitalized, which is a huge plus. There are people on this forum who can attest to how difficult it is to get a restaurant/bar to work if you are under-capitalized. He's also done this a few times before, so he has to get a nod for experience. I also agree with the basic premise that the Stockyards is an underdeveloped entertainment venue. His concept sounds a little dated, but then again, the most successful and enduring watering holes do not change format every 5 - 10 years to follow fashion.

Then again, in matters of public taste, if everyone hates an idea (like everyone appears to on this forum) there is a good chance it will fail.

I'm cautiously optimistic.

#10 safly

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:31 PM

I hear you on that. Roger that.

Who's Who when it comes to his partners in past dealings. That does help his cause. wink.gif

QUOTE
Makes you wonder how all the tejano and pop radio stations stay in business?


Easy. Clear Channel Inc. subsidizes them. biggrin.gif

QUOTE
Here is what Spencer Taylor is betting on: Fort Worth’s population is growing exponentially, but the city still has no defined entertainment district that locals flock to for bar-hopping. He believes that in the last few years, hip-hop and dance clubs in the Stockyards have driven off more customers than they’ve drawn. Taylor thinks Fort Worth is ready for his brand of club-hopping — walking bar to bar in an area with a lot of choices for food, drink, and music. He believes he can divert the Southlake and Colleyville crowd to come down I-35W to the Stockyards instead of following Highway 114 into Dallas.

That’s one theory. But there are those in the club business in the Stockyards who truly believe this Spencer Taylor project will fall flat — and quickly. Their reasoning is that locals have historically perceived the western part of the Stockyards in two ways: as a hangout for tourists, and as a base for rednecks from the western hinterlands who come to be nasty, get loaded, and start fights.


Yes, I can't argue that FW's population is growing exponentially, but what demograph does he assume is the fastest growing WITHIN that trend, and are the counterparts substantially out-ratioed? And I don't really think "the city" has a defined entertainment district either, nor does "the city" care. Though DFW Inc. may think otherwise (Sundance).

As an observer, I can see SoDo being that bar hopping alley, from any of two or three established Irish style pubs to a Cubanismo DJ and Live music venue, to Club and VIP honored venues. SoHo has it for now, and yes it will get tiring and tediously monotonous, but THE STOCKYARDS is not the answer for where to go next, unless you really enjoy a Billy Bob's or White Elephant, or feel certain that your valet parked vehicle in the Stockyard's District will get the VIP treatment as well. People will go out of ther way to head into Dallas, and will soon have Arlington to explore for the nightlife, very very soon.

If I had his "money" and contacts, I'd wait out the TRV development. River frontage restaurants/bars will be the defined EDistr. ALL of FW has been waiting for. IMO.
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#11 cbellomy

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 09:49 PM

I think this thing might work, but if so it won't because of west siders. I think what Spencer is aiming to create here is Son of Dallas Alley in more ways than one -- a success that thrives for a time not because it's the best place to bar hop (Dallas Alley never was) but simply because it's a well publicized project in a long-neglected collection of old buildings in a key part of town. IOW, assuming it's safe, it'll be a destination for suburbanites not hip enough for SoHo (or Deep Ellum back in the Dallas Alley days) from all over the metro area. "Hey, let's head out to the Stockyards tonight" doesn't have the baggage for these folks that it does for us locals who have or know too many Stockyards stories already.

Spencer will advertise the hell out of this thing. Look for tons of radio station remotes out there, maybe some outdoor live shows, whatever it takes to imprint the existence of this place in minds of people all over D/FW. If it doesn't work, it won't be a quiet death.

Meanwhile, west siders will still be at the Ginger Man, Fred's, Railhead, Uncle Julio's, etc. I don't think there's anything that could draw these folks to the Stockyards in large numbers.


#12 safly

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 12:04 AM

That would be my main concern in attracting the WEST end or side "crowd". There are waaaaay too many establishments which exist outside of the stockyards that already do it RIGHT, and attain their clients status and loyalty. Mainly in the west end area of FW, whom already appeal to his demograph. You cannot simply say becasue FW is growing exponentially that the stockyards is the main appeal or EDistr. with his "new" yet "historically proven" concept. It is an interesting angle in which he tends to want to whitewash the stockyards or strip it down clean and repaint it some nostalgic virgin color. That is not worth the trouble IMO. Doing it within your own venue is quite different. The SY will ALWAYS carry it's own appeal, so why try to promote an idea that this one person can make it ALL BETTER. And ALL BETTER may only be his or his investors own IDEAL or VISION.

I think the turnover effect at the SY is part of what makes the SY interesting. Constantly changing and EVOLVING into what the maket plays out for that period of time. Sounds like Spence just wants it to change it as a whole or trendset based on his preference and prejudice and create it for all-time. I equal the SY to what SAians consider THE ALAMO in their hometown attraction. It is hardly ever visited by most hometown folks, but the everyday out of town tourist will consider it the MUST SEE main draw.

SY has plenty of hurdles and if he got a great deal on those places, then it should be worth it. If he is spent and needs to promote the concept through the Weekly, then he is playing it too desperate and risky from the get go.

[quote]Fort Worth Police Capt. Bill Read, in charge of the department’s Northside division, said he’s encouraged by the planning for the complex. Read also has a practical reason for warming up to the project. “It is much better to deal with one bar owner than seven,” he said. “And we like to take care of problems before they start, rather than after they happen.[/quote]

For God's sakes man, just man up and quit complaining about dealing with several bar owners. Police WILL ALWAYS have the upperhand in these situations. Is it me or is Capt. Read trying to encourage enforcing policing strategies prior to any crime ever being commited here? Could someone on the Forum associate a Habeus Corpus petition eventually being needed here? I guess with the presumed lack in crime there, the city should look forward to letting go plenty of police officers. Read should know that problems do not arise from solely the owners and changing the music scene is inappropriate policing or campaigning by law enforcement officers, when it comes to serving the public. Besides real gangstas don't hit up the Stockyards scene, and I do mean REAL GANGSTERS.

[/quote]
But then things got a little murky. In 1991, Barnett was planning an entertainment complex in Minneapolis called “Mississippi Live.” Barnett and Taylor took an old shopping mall and converted it into a multi-club/restaurant complex. But it was dogged by problems with underage drinking, and now the complex is mostly office space.

Taylor worked as a consultant for a Las Vegas casino from 1995 to 1997 and did some consulting for Gilley’s, the Houston-area honky-tonk that gained fame from the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy and was expanding into Dallas.[quote]

Underage drinking already in his portfolio. Perhaps Capt. Read should read up more on Mr. Spence before giving him "the key to the Stockyards" sort of speak. And doing the "consulting" thing is just a way to manage a club or bar, avoid payroll tax for the owner, and avoid virtually all liabilities associated with the performance or status in the business.

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#13 jefffwd

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 10:49 AM

Since we are talking bars... A friend came over from N Dallas Friday night and we went to Gloria's for dinner and then tried to go to Aqua/Bent/Bar9 but there was no close parking and we didn't want to valet so we just gave up. Also, what happened to clubs Embargo and Scat Jazz Lounge? Are they open? Plans change??

#14 Bernd

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 11:14 AM

Embargo is open, and seems to be doing quite well. It's been packed the couple times I've been there.
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#15 David Love

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 03:02 PM

It would appear they’re just eying the high profit crowds that have filtered into downtown, they just want a piece of it. What I find ironic, is the only thing the stockyards has or even will have in the near future that downtown doesn’t, is country western venues. So I guess the logical salvo for Sundance would be to establish permanent a CW venue.

As for the parking anomalies downtown, it just takes spending time downtown to discover where all the pockets are, perhaps some pre planning. I could see the yupified version of the stockyards being the second choice for the parking challenged.

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#16 safly

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 03:15 PM

EMBARGO, from what I hear has lately been THE PLACE to scoot over to in ALL OF DTFW!

The owner(s) are great people, I always ahave a blast there and nothing compares to it, especially on the LIVE music level and dance floor "talent". This part of the year is perfect Cubanismo club atmosphere. Ladies wear a little less wub.gif and the mojitos and HOT Latin hits frame the experience just perfect.

EMBARGO is located on 8th St. , between Commerce and Calhoun St., just a shade east of the HILTON HOTEL. Sea of parking between Calhoun and Jones St. Plenty use it. Valet by PRIME TIME are located at BAR9, Bent Lounge, Del Friscos and Aqua Lounge. Always a spot after 10pm on Main St. near the Conv Center, or along 8th and 9th Streets crossing Main and Calhoun routes.

Tell Del a Torre "SUP!" for me at EMBARGO. And if you see "BIG TIME" at his place, expect a dance showdown to unravel.
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#17 cberen1

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 07:36 AM

QUOTE(jefffwd @ Jun 10 2007, 11:49 AM) View Post

... tried to go to Aqua/Bent/Bar9 but there was no close parking and we didn't want to valet so we just gave up.


Willing to shell out $12.50 for a mixed drink, but not $4 for valet?


#18 Keller Pirate

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 11:05 AM

QUOTE(David Love @ Jun 10 2007, 04:02 PM) View Post

What I find ironic, is the only thing the stockyards has or even will have in the near future that downtown doesn’t, is country western venues. So I guess the logical salvo for Sundance would be to establish permanent a CW venue.

I think you are right, but no one has mentioned the lingering stockyards casino idea. These guys sound like they might be interested in that sort of thing.

I can't remember for sure but I think the bill in the legislature to put the casino issue on the ballot this fall didn't make it. I'm sure big money will try again next legislature.


#19 youngalum

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 11:31 AM

The bill for casinos died in this session. But sooner or later, casinos will come to Texas and be the large sites like Vegas and not small sites like Slezeport.

#20 KoreanCowboy

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 10:28 PM

I think that this has the potential to work.

This being in the Stockyards will help older folk (late '20s) transition from the Neon Moons and PRs, into more mature, grown-up places to gather and socialise. I know of several people, including myself, that are wanting something different to go to. The current clubs there now will always be there to service their respective demographic.

As far as the "other" bar owners are concerned, of course they feel that this will fail...that's because they want it to.

Speaking of which, Darren is hopelessly out-of-touch with what's really going on down in the Stockyards after dark. although he is "right" about the nightclub demographic for the most part (excluding the mid-to-late '20s girls that can't or won't compete with the younger girls @ PRs), what he isn't telling the reporter is that since PR's was manhandled by TABC and forced to enforce their underage drinking policies, most flocked to his club, which is comprised of younger folk. It's only a matter of time before TABC knocks on his door, which is the kiss of death for any Stockyards nightclub (see Cowboy Cats and Longhorn Saloon).

It also seems to be a haven of violence. The exterior scenery would not be complete without a couple of FWPD squad cars, and a gaggle of police officers standing by.

Furthermore, he contradicts himself in the article, stating that older people coming to the Stockyards will not pay a cover charge, although he charges said people a cover charge, just like almost everyone else does down there.

Paul Lemon made excuses as to why his club (Stone Canyon) failed. The only reason why it fail is because no one went there (as did Krave and Club Patron). They would not match PRs on their drink specials...plus, people are creatures of habit. Why leave someone where you feel comfortable with, to go somewhere else to pay more money for the same alcohol? Most people are followers and scared of change.

He also implies how the FWPD are prejudiced against minorities. Every fight that I have ever witnessed where the people were involved ended quickly...if those fighting were white. Those that are Black and Hispanic were less so, or weapons were involved, thus the police had to act accordingly. This is coming from someone that is a minority.

I personally feel that the FWPD have done an excellent job in protecting club patrons from harm.

I also believe that everyone here is forgetting two key facts:

1) More people are moving to Fort Worth from Dallas, than vice-versa (3 to 1, according the WFAA-TV).

2) Coupled with the fact that people are moving here from both California and New York. In fact, more commercial real estate was sold to those outside of Texas than Texans last year (an article was in the Fort Worth Star Telegram).


With this infusion of folk that are not from here, they also bring with them their culture, their work ethics, and their after-hours habits.

Fort Worth needs to change with the times...although the Basses and Company want to preserve FTW the way that it is now, a city can not prosper without change.

This is only the beginning...expect to see more in the futue.



#21 Keller Pirate

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 09:27 AM

Interesting and new take Korean Cowboy. You obviously know the scene down there. I look forward to more posts from you.

#22 Now in Denton

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 10:43 AM

QUOTE(Keller Pirate @ Jun 17 2007, 10:27 AM) View Post

Interesting and new take Korean Cowboy. You obviously know the scene down there. I look forward to more posts from you.


Yes. Please do more post.

#23 safly

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:36 AM

QUOTE
With this infusion of folk that are not from here, they also bring with them their culture, their work ethics, and their after-hours habits.


What does that have to do with your FACT #1?

And #2 for that matter. It seems that correlating sold "commercial" RE demographic to what new style of bars popping up in the Stockyards District (of all places) is a BIG STRETCH.

I do like the Greg Williams factor in his sports bar approach. (BIG FAN of AM RADIO)
But one would think that if he wanted a country style bar (true to stockyards), then he should have gone with a Texas Gold Radio partner. Bring back the REAL COUNTRY classics and bands to that area.

I think Darren has it right in regards to his analysis of the Stockyards, but it would be interesting to see how TABC "cleans" up the area for Spence or for the public.
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#24 mmiller2002

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 12:24 PM

The print ads (FWWeekly & S-T Go section) make the complex look kinda trendy insta-theme-bar like maybe it would be fun to try once, but not cool enough to frequent (unless there's really good HH specials). That's just my impression of the print ads.

#25 mschrief

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 10:05 PM

If Spence had any brains, he would open a Caravan of Dreams-type venue down Fort Worth. ALL ages would attend most shows, many ending well after 2am.

I would never drive to the Stockyards to sit in a bar. I don't go there to the C&W bars, and consider the entire area just a huge tourist attraction. Boooooring. Who wants to watch tourists oooh and awwww over the longhorns or ride the bull at Billy Bob's?

Fort Worth needs a classy, upscale
(non-bluehair read: Bass Hall) venue where we can get our groove on with some blues, jazz, world music shows.

Depressing, really.

#26 vjackson

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 07:32 AM

QUOTE(mschrief @ Jun 19 2007, 11:05 PM) View Post

If Spence had any brains, he would open a Caravan of Dreams-type venue down Fort Worth. ALL ages would attend most shows, many ending well after 2am.

I would never drive to the Stockyards to sit in a bar. I don't go there to the C&W bars, and consider the entire area just a huge tourist attraction. Boooooring. Who wants to watch tourists oooh and awwww over the longhorns or ride the bull at Billy Bob's?

Fort Worth needs a classy, upscale
(non-bluehair read: Bass Hall) venue where we can get our groove on with some blues, jazz, world music shows.

Depressing, really.

I couldn't agree more. It seems that after the Caravan left, what little sophisticated funk FW had left with it. The style of shows offered at the Caravan didn't go to Bass Hall, they simply, for the most part, stopped coming to FW altogther. I've caught a few shows of Caravan caliber at the Bass like Erikah Badu several years ago, but most of the shows at the Bass seem to be for the over 50 crowd. Now with the House of Blues open in Dallas, I think nationaly or world reknowned entertainment that would once cross the county line have no venue in FW. The Ridglea is pretty nice, but it doesn't offer the upscale, cool, funky, vibe the Caravan did. My parents loooooved that place.



#27 Fort Worthology

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:41 AM

QUOTE(vjackson @ Jun 20 2007, 08:32 AM) View Post

I couldn't agree more. It seems that after the Caravan left, what little sophisticated funk FW had left with it. The style of shows offered at the Caravan didn't go to Bass Hall, they simply, for the most part, stopped coming to FW altogther. I've caught a few shows of Caravan caliber at the Bass like Erikah Badu several years ago, but most of the shows at the Bass seem to be for the over 50 crowd. Now with the House of Blues open in Dallas, I think nationaly or world reknowned entertainment that would once cross the county line have no venue in FW. The Ridglea is pretty nice, but it doesn't offer the upscale, cool, funky, vibe the Caravan did. My parents loooooved that place.



Agreed. The Caravan needs to come back, ASAP.

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#28 youngalum

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 11:20 AM

What ever happened to the Jazz Bar that was to open downtown?

#29 safly

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 02:42 AM

We need a LIVE music venue with a cabaret style layout.

I was watching "Beyond the Sea" the other day on DVD, a wonderful movie about Bobby Darin. His character played in a place called the CopaCabana. Looked amazing and intimate, like a real musical setting should present itself.

Nothing like that in all of FW these days.
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#30 Fort Worthology

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 10:09 AM

QUOTE(youngalum @ Jun 20 2007, 12:20 PM) View Post

What ever happened to the Jazz Bar that was to open downtown?


Lounge singer Ricki Derek says it'll be an October opening. Hit a few delays, apparently, but says things are back on track now.

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#31 JBB

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 09:49 AM

I had a chance to go down to West Exchange (I guess that's the official name of the area since the employees were all wearing t-shirts with that moniker) last night for a birthday get together. One of our friends had a relative working at Widgie's, so we decided to give it a shot. $5 got you into all of the clubs, but we never ventured outside of the karoke bar. Very thin crowd, but it was Thursday, with questionable weather, and they've only been open for a week. Only one other person sang outside of the 9 people in our party and the hosts. Drinks were moderately priced - $4 or so. We had a great time, but it would have been a lot more fun with a bigger crowd.

Apparently they've gotten approval to close the street all day on Sunday. There were flyers advertising a motorcycle festival every Sunday from this weekend through October.

#32 ICD

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 08:43 AM

It looks like the West Exchange project is already losing steam. I haven't been down yet, but their website www.100westex.com now states all of the clubs will be closed Mon.-Wed. I know a few folks in the bar business, and they all say the same thing. Make your money to pay bills during the week, and your gravy on the weekends. Looks like Spencer Taylor isn't even breaking even or close during the weeknights.

#33 David Love

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 08:54 AM

I've heard mixed reviews but the Sunday motorcycle rally could turn out to be a good idea and I know from experience, closing that street is no small task.

As for a Thursday, I've noticed several spots around downtown seem to have sporadic crowds, they seem to be getting later and later, for some, you wouldn't even think about getting there before 11:30 or 12 and I'm hearing a lot more often than I use to, "where are the after hour places downtown and what's open late?"

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#34 safly

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 12:13 AM

I meant to post the opening HHour at GW's or Gdubs a few weeks ago before I left town, but forgot too (place sad EOR icon here.)

I got to sneak a peek at two of the places with a friend of mine before leaving town. GW's should do very well, I have some pics and it looks fanastic and so different from the other parts of the Stockyards area. They serve food and the person heading the operations on that front is considered a very good cook around DTFW. The menu is simple and looks to compliment anyones drinking experience. Good sized stage to entertain a crowd of 100 or so. The street level is split with a dark screen (smoking?) and the place has two huge bars and several mini stations throughout. The max occ. is probably topped off at 215. There was this SWEEET chopper parked there inside behind some velvety ropes. Nice touch.

Word is that Spence is losing money and has some apparent medical issues these days. STRESS can get yo from time to time. Looks like plenty of effort were put into these two places, hope he enjoys it this summer and gives it a great shot. Great choice in the food guy.
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#35 safly

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 01:08 PM

QUOTE
It's only a matter of time before TABC knocks on his door, which is the kiss of death for any Stockyards nightclub


Wow. You mean they actually KNOCK?
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#36 safly

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 04:51 AM

CLLLLOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSED! sleep.gif

Heard Steve and company done changed them locks. Interesting???
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#37 Papaw

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 08:40 PM

It's been awhile since Taylor announced his new concept and I haven't heard any recent feedback. The last few times I visited North Side it seemed a lot of the bars had shut down and the crowds were a lot smaller. Did Spencer ever activate his concept and it didn't work out?

It seems like a lot of the night life has shifted from Northside to downtown FW. I think the one thing that helped Northside's atmosphere was the allowed open drinking on the streets - being able to walk down the sidewalks with your drink. I have noticed more open public drinking in the downtown area lately. Are they allowing this, like Northside, or just loosening up on enforcement?




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