At Greenville Bar & Grill, a sign of the past

The neon sign has survived a fire, tenant changes and decades of wear and tear: Photo by Jacque Manaugh
The neon sign has survived a fire, tenant changes and decades of wear and tear: Photo by Jacque Manaugh

The easily recognizable sign has been casting neon light along Lower Greenville since 1933 when Greenville Bar & Grill (GBG) opened shortly after prohibition ended (it is rumored to have one of Dallas’ oldest liquor licenses) and quickly became a neighborhood staple.

“Over the years, GBG has consistently been a bar and grill that catered to the neighborhood — worried about the neighborhood first and worried about the outsiders who come into the neighborhood secondarily,” says Shawn Foley, who identifies himself in his LinkedIn profile as “chief bottle washer and owner at Greenville Bar & Grill.”

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“I realized, if I was going to do this, it wasn’t going to work as a pub. I needed to turn it back into the Greenville Bar & Grill.”

The bar first won Foley’s heart in the ’80s, when he and his friends would frequent Lower Greenville and rotate through their favorite bars and restaurants.

In 2010 a well publicized fire destroyed GBG along with Terilli’s, Nick’s Café and Hurricane Grill. Terilli’s rose from the ashes, but the others didn’t.

GBG’s sign survived the fire, but the space turned into Rohst, a Korean barbecue joint. It soon closed, and the Londoner opened in its place, turning the space into a dark pub, but that didn’t last long either.

“I was looking for an investment, and I kind of happened to run across this place last spring,” Foley says. “I realized, if I was going to do this, it wasn’t going to work as a pub. I needed to turn it back into the Greenville Bar & Grill.”

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The original sign outside was not working at the time, but Foley had it restored. He cleaned up the building’s interior and made better use of its natural light.

Then he opened the doors to Greenville Bar & Grill once more in October, serving “comfort foods” such as fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and rib-eye.

The historical sign out front continues to shape the restaurant’s future.


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