Henderson Avenue is a restaurant and nightlife trend-setter.
Henderson Avenue is the new Uptown.
It’s the hottest restaurant and nightlife spot in Dallas. And it’s setting trends for the rest of the city.
At least, that’s what some people think, and there’s plenty of evidence to back up those claims.
The story of Henderson starts in the early 1960s, when grocer Dave Andres started buying up buildings and land. About 10 years later, he started Andres Investments, which was instrumental in reviving Henderson and Lower Greenville.
In the 1980s, the company became Andres Properties under the leadership of Dave Andre’s sons, Marc and Roger. They developed the retail and restaurant spaces near Henderson and Central Expressway, and people from Highland Park and other parts of Dallas started crossing from Knox to Henderson for shopping and dining.
The area grew slowly. The Andres brothers didn’t just develop property and sell it to the highest bidder; they leased and managed it. And they select businesses and owners with care.
“We own all these properties, so we’ve been able to dictate and control what goes in,” Marc Andres says. “We’re not going to lease to someone who is a direct competitor of another business here. We don’t want four Capitol Pubs.”
That diversity of businesses is part of what keeps the area interesting and unique, he says.
In 2006, Andres Properties finally purchased the Jerry’s Supermarket at 2323 Henderson.
“We had been trying to buy it since 1982,” says Marc Andres.
And once they had it, the neighborhood experienced a burst of change. The old grocery has become an Andres flagship – a strip center with a sushi place, a high-end frozen yogurt shop, a wine bar and a seafood restaurant. And the redevelopment created a connection between the more recently redeveloped parts of Henderson and emerging developments.
After that, Andres acquired the Carnival Foods store that last year became New Flower Market.
When Hugo Galvan opened his restaurant, Cafe San Miguel, on North Henderson almost five years ago, it was still kind of a rough neigborhood. “People always say, ‘Oh, you were really smart,” he says. “And I say, ‘No, I was just really lucky.'” He picked what would become one of the hottest addresses in Dallas for restaurants and nightlife.
Galvan recently added a patio to the front of his restaurant, which has become a must-have feature on Henderson.
There are 20-25 patios on Henderson, and few businesses are without one, which is another part of the street’s appeal. Hacienda on Henderson and Blue Collar Bar also built patios last year. And restaurant Park built its entire design concept around outdoor seating and activities – even the interior has a park-like feel.
“It’s fun because you can be sitting on the patio at Hacienda and see what’s going on over at Capitol Pub,” says Marc Andres. “The patios are a big draw, and the walk-ability.”
That’s one trend that carries over to Lower Greenville. Old-school steakhouse Kirby’s recently changed its name to WoodFire Kirby’s. With a new menu and interior design, which includes a patio with an outdoor fireplace, the owners are seeking a young, hip clientele.
Chef Rene Peeters, who owned Watel’s in Uptown for decades, recently brought a new restaurant concept to Lowest Greenville, World Piece. Even though the neighborhood long has been known as a hotspot for clubs and stumbling college students, Peeters thinks the area will change, in part because of its location near Henderson.
“It looks like Henderson has a lot of new restaurants, and it’s doing pretty well,” Peeters says. “It’s a neighborhood that’s changing, and that’s the idea of moving down here.”
The Greenville Avenue Restaurant Association, which formed last year, is pushing for unity among restaurant owners, and its members envision a Lower Greenville that is more a destination for restaurant-goers, and less a stomping grounds for late-night partiers.
That’s in line with what Andres Properties, which owns a chunk of the retail space on Lower Greenville, wants for the area, too.
In some cases, it’s been a struggle. Benjamin Verdooren, who opened restaurant Zymology on Lowest Greenville in January 2009, closed it a few months later, despite good reviews. He blamed his location. “The building owners want it to become something it’s not,” he says, inferring that the neighborhood is still more of a club scene than a restaurant hot spot.
Peeters agrees that Lower Greenville has a late-night vibe. But he contends that the area always has had good restaurants. When winter is over, he plans to open an overhead door to create a patio feeling at World Piece.
“Lower Greenville wants to be a part of it, and blend into what’s on Henderson,” says Marc Andres.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.