AAnother weird year done. That freak snow storm, real estate drama, furious street racing — it’s crazy to think all that and a whole lot more happened in the same year. Here are the stories that captivated our neighborhood.

Bye-bye, barbecue

Photography by Kathy Tran.

Lakewood Smokehouse, which opened in Lakewood Shopping Center five years ago, closed permanently. The restaurant cited problems caused by COVID-19 as the reason for the decision. Sales hadn’t returned to their pre-pandemic levels, and the restaurant had been paying more for items.

Child-care gap

Photo courtesy of White Rock Montessori.

White Rock Montessori School, one of Dallas’ first private schools, will begin offering year-round early childhood programs. This is part of an effort to meet the needs of working families.

In memoriam

Photo courtesy of Woodrow Wilson High School via Facebook.

Dusty Hill, a Woodrow Wilson alumnus and a member of ZZ Top, died at 72. The bassist, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, died in his sleep.

Drive-thru drama

Plans for a Whataburger with a 24-hour drive-thru near the Gaston-Garland-Grand intersection were stalled when Dallas City Council returned the case to the City Plan Commission. Public notices to surrounding property owners for the initial CPC public hearing were incorrectly prepared. In May, with a 6-5 vote, the plan commission approved the restaurant’s request to end the deed restrictions to be able to operate the drive-thru.

Local elections

Photography by Jessica Turner. Photo courtesy of Paula Blackmon.

Paul Ridley beat David Blewett in a runoff election for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat. Paula Blackmon, an incumbent, was re-elected to the District 9 spot.

Whisky-flavored tears

Photo courtesy of Trinity Hall via Facebook.

Trinity Hall Irish Pub closed at Mockingbird Station after 20 years of business in the neighborhood. The lease was up, and the owners announced on a sign posted to the door that they had pulled “the classic Irish goodbye.” Marius Donnelly owned the place and once told The Advocate he had “everything but the floor” of the pub flown in from Ireland.

How corny

Photography by Emil Lippe.

The Pocket Sandwich Theatre, a neighborhood institution for decades, had to move from its location at Mockingbird Central Plaza to a spot in Carrollton. Owners of the shopping center told the dinner theater its lease would not be renewed because it didn’t fit with the vision of the area. “In 1990 we moved here from another location on Greenville Avenue, and 2022 will be the start of another move and a new adventure,” says Shanon Dickinson, the theater manager. “The story is not over.”

Step on it

Map courtesy of Google Maps.

Crews broke ground on the first phase of the Trinity Forest Spine Trail, which will connect the Santa Fe Trail north of the Tenison Park Golf Course to Samuell Boulevard, just north of Interstate 30. The trail, a project managed by the Circuit Trail Conservancy, is one of the pieces of The Loop, 50 miles of continuous walking, biking and running paths. “This type of amenity coming online is going to continue to make Dallas incredibly resilient and ready for that future,” says Philip Hiatt Haigh, the executive director of the CTC. “This is a 50-year investment that we are making right now.”

Oui oui, patisserie

Photo courtesy of Leila Bakery & Cafe.

Two bakeries in our neighborhood, Leila Bakery & Cafe and Boulangerie by Village Baking Co., are some of the 10 best bakeries in Dallas, according to USA Today.

Relax your setbacks

Photography by Renee Umsted.

Residents of the Belmont Addition Conservation District showed what neighborhood self-determination can be. After years of meetings and petitions, the Dallas City Council approved modifications to the district’s regulations for fences, front-yard setbacks, renovations of nonconforming structures and driveway access.

Live, laugh, lunch

Photography courtesy of Lincoln Property Co.

Since construction of The Village began in 1968, the residential community has grown to include 7,300 apartment units. Last year, it opened several restaurants such as Anise, which serves Mediterranean dishes, and La Mina, an upscale Mexican place tucked into the lowest level of
The Drey Hotel.

Club compromise

The owners of OT Tavern reached a settlement with the City Attorney and agreed the business on Greenville Avenue would comply with certain regulations. Guests are not allowed to enter after 12:15 a.m. on most weeknights, and everyone must clear out by 12:45 a.m. Plus the bar must use a valet service and have six security guards on duty. Outdoor speakers have to be shut off by sundown. After two years of that, OT Tavern will no longer be able to operate with its current “nonconforming” status under zoning rules. These decisions came after the Board of Adjustment ruled in favor of nearby Bar 3606, another nonconforming establishment.

TV legend

Photography courtesy of Bob Phillips via Facebook.

Dallas native and former Junius Heights neighbor Bob Phillips released a memoir marking 50 years of Texas Country Reporter, in which he documents his start as a young reporter and how he came to host the longest-running independently produced TV show in American television.

Quiet time?

District 2 City Councilman Jesse Moreno created a task force to address noise complaints in Deep Ellum. Moreno invited the Deep Ellum Foundation, the Deep Ellum Community Association, district entertainment and live-music venue owners to join the task force, which will work with the Department of Code Compliance Services to come up with district-specific amendments. The rules regulating venues in Deep Ellum hadn’t changed, but enforcement of them had. In a matter of months, Code Compliance issued nine noise citations.

Big Tex

Photo courtesy of Media Projects Inc.

After being canceled in 2020, the State Fair of Texas returned in 2021. A Fair to Remember, a documentary made by East Dallas neighbors Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, was rereleased to celebrate. The Mondells are the co-founders of the nonprofit Media Projects
Inc., and since 1978, they have been producing and distributing documentary films about history, mental health, women’s studies and more.

Robust residential

The Dallas City Council approved Highland Grove, a proposed single-family development at the intersection of Highland Road and Barbaree Boulevard. Fifteen years ago, the 4.16-acre site was a mobile home park. Now, 23 homes are planned for the development. The decision came to the dismay of a few neighbors, who were opposed to the plan because it would destroy old trees, be built in a flood plain and could cause parking issues.

What a drag

Photo courtesy of Dallas Municipal Archives.

It has been more than 20 years since the last White Rock Lake dredging, which removes sediment to restore the lake to a sufficient depth for recreational use. The first dredging in 1937 got off to a rough start. Andrea Hawkins of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department says a feasibility report was completed September 2020, and City officials are now looking at how to pay for the dredging. Construction could be funded in the next bond program, around 2024, and dredging would start three or four years after the funding is figured out. The actual dredging would take between one and three years, so the whole project is expected to be completed around 2031.

Landscape reframe

The City Council approved The Trailhead, a mixed-use development slated for the site of the former Lot and Local Traveler restaurants near the Gaston-Garland-Grand intersection. Approval came with a few conditions for the developer, Mill Creek Residential. Height is limited to six stories, and there’s an affordability requirement of 9%, which is about 27 units. The developer proposed no more than 305 total units and up to 20,000 square feet of commercial space with public access to the Santa Fe Trail. At the City Council meeting, neighbors spoke in opposition to the developer and wanted the newly elected representatives to have more time to review the case.

Migrating north

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

The residential real estate market was booming last year. With high demand and low supply, our neighborhood wasn’t left out of the madness. One Junius Heights neighbor, Julia Bunch, wrote about seeing house after house on nearby streets listed, sold and renovated. It was only a matter of time before her landlord decided to sell the property. Bunch and her husband were given the opportunity to buy the house, which they had been renting. So they had to leave, migrating north to get a bigger bang for their buck.

25 years of togetherness

Shoreline sprucing (Photo by Rasy Ran)

Photography by Rasy Ran.

There are plenty of topics that divide us: politics, religion, favorite taco place. But one thing unites us: our love for White Rock Lake. For the Love of the Lake turned 25. Since it started in 1996, the group has organized more than 300 Saturday events to pick up litter.

Testing aces

Lakewood Elementary. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

Photography by Rasy Ran.

Lakewood Elementary was ranked the 27th best elementary school in Texas by U.S. News & World Report. Rankings were based on students’ performance on mathematics and reading/language arts state tests. At Lakewood, 87% of students scored at or above the proficient level for math, and 86% scored at or above the level for reading.

Let there be lights

The SoPac Trail received updates this year, including lights installed from Skillman Street to Greenville Avenue. Friends of the SoPac Trail organized the planting of trees and a pollinator garden at the respite area south of Mockingbird Lane.