Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Many of us just stopped driving down Lower Greenville in 2016. More than a year of construction work to improve the pocked roads made it a traffic nightmare that was best avoided. More and more drivers headed to Skillman or Ross to skip the headache.

“We’ve heard so many neighbors say that,” says Sammy Mandell, owner of Greenville Avenue Pizza Company (GAP Co.).

As a member of the Lowest Greenville Collective, Mandell helped create “Experience Lowest Greenville,” a day of events this Saturday meant to showcase the street and its businesses in a new way. More than 20 neighborhood spots will be offering unique experiences, and the best part is, most of them are free. Want to screen print your own shirt? Head to Bullzerk. Got a sweet tooth? Katherine Clapner of Dude Sweet Chocolate will host chocolate pairings while talking treats during three classes throughout the day (noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.).

“We wanted to do something totally different, some that gave people an experience,” Mandell says. “With most of these, the owner themselves will be doing the experience. That’s really rare, to get to learn from Brooks [Anderson] from Rapscallion or Katherine [Clapner] over at Dude Sweet.”

Some classes, like learning to shuck oysters with Anderson, do have a fee attached ($50 which includes seven oysters, a shucking knife, gloves and a drink). Many also are limited to a certain number of participants, so registration is required to secure your spot. Events will take place from 8 a.m Saturday till 2 a.m. on Sunday (see the full schedule here, including how to sign up for selective classes).

“We wanted to put Greenville back on the map because people have forgotten about it during the construction,” Mandell says. “There’s something for everyone, there really is.”

Business owners suffered from the drop of business during the lengthy construction process, he says. Lowest Greenville has seen a number of closures in recent months, especially when it comes to restaurants — C’Viche, Clark Food, Remedy and Wine Co. being just a few examples. Mandell can’t speak to those closures directly, but said construction likely played a role.

“It didn’t help anyone, that’s for sure,” he says. “Whenever there’s construction, we’re hurting and we need customers even more.”

Owners at Dallas Beer Kitchen, which shuttered in early 2016 only to reopen later that year, directly cited the construction as the reason for its closure in a scathing note to the city: “One last thing – f*ck the City of Dallas for planning an 11 month construction project costing $3.2 million on the entire street without allocating money for Construction Mitigation like other cities have done in the past.”

Built for walkability, businesses on Greenville rely on foot traffic, which dried up during the road work. “Experience Lowest Greenville” hopes to remind neighbors of everything the avenue has to offer this weekend, including free communal valet.

“[Lowest Greenville] is in full swing again after the construction,” Mandell say, “and very walkable again. Don’t worry about parking if you do have to drive, the merchants pay for valet.”

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