It’s hard to say exactly, since it’s just idea and not an official proposal at this point. But it would remain consistent with the surrounding atmosphere, says architect Lyle Burgin, who has teamed with attorney Richard Kopf.
“My vision is something similar to the stone tables — a lodge type of feel,” Burgin says, referring to the pavilion near the Bath House Cultural Center off East Lawther. “I could see a nature trail running through there.”
The location in question is Boy Scout Hill near Mockingbird and Buckner. The building potentially could be two stories, the first underground. Burgin says he doesn’t see it as a late-night establishment — it could stay open until 10 or 11 p.m. There’s also an idea to provide an outdoor restroom facility for thru-hikers and cyclists.
Burgin says they also plan to protect the green space as much as possible while planting new native grasses that could help obscure a decomposed-granite parking lot.
Burgin, who has lived in the lower M Streets for about 30 years, says he’d like to see the revenue generated from the restaurant go toward improvements at the lake. Dallas park board member Gerry Worrall says it could operate similar to the Savor restaurant in the Arts District’s Klyde Warren Park, which is run by the park’s foundation. (More on how that could work in a future story).
When dreaming up the idea of a restaurant at the lake, Burgin and Kopf expected staunch resistance from neighbors. If there’s too much, then it’s not worth doing, Burgin says.
“In order for a restaurant to be successful at the lake, it has to have the community support. The people we thought we’d get a lot of push-back from seem supportive of the idea.”
Well, if not supportive, then open-minded. Burgin and Kopf have met with a few neighborhood leaders, including activist Ted Barker, a major defender of White Rock Lake’s natural environment and a resounding voice in the Winfery Point controversy. A two-hour conversation followed.
“We will reserve judgement while you talk with community groups,” Barker concluded. “The community will help shape it.”
Many questions remain, including the actual size of the restaurant and its parking facility, and how the access roads from Mockingbird and Buckner might have to be reconfigured to accommodate more traffic. Burgin is aware of those issues but says it’s too early to know those details.
“We see this as a process for public input before we even start putting lines on the paper,” he says.
If there’s one thing the community might agree on, it’s just that — the process. They appreciate the transparency, which hasn’t always been the case with commercial development proposals at the lake.
“They’re doing it right,” says Michael Jung, chair of the White Rock Lake Task Force, the group of local leaders that is still mulling over the idea with “open-minded skepticism.”
However, a small protest group already has formed — Save Boy Scout Hill — with an emphasis on keeping alcohol away from White Rock Lake. With enough support, it could effectively kill any plans for a restaurant where you could kick back, have a glass of beer and watch the sunset over the lake.
If you haven’t already, tell us what you think by voting in our poll below.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.