The sad news was on the Observer’s blog yesterday – Vern’s, the soul food institution, closed this week, a victim of the recession. There is almost no way to describe how crummy this is.

The last couple of times that I’ve been to Vern’s, there were so few customers that I was afraid this was going to happen. Business never seemed especially robust after it moved from its location on Main Street near Fair Park a couple of years ago, even though the new spot on Elm in Deep Ellum was infinitely more dining friendly. The restaurant business is tough in the best of times, and this has hardly been the best of time.

And why should we mourn Vern’s closing? First, the food was fantastic, soul food the way it is supposed to be done. The short ribs, the chicken and dumplings, the greens, the meat loaf – I’m getting hungry just writing that. Second, the Freeman family, which owns Vern’s, ran a great place. Service was good, they were friendly, and they enjoyed what they did.

Third, and most important, is that Vern’s was not the usual sort of plastic, publicity-driven, chi-chi restaurant that gets all the high praise around here. It was honest and real, and we don’t have nearly enough of that in Dallas. I get to eat at most of the “best” restaurants in town because of my wine stuff, and there’s no comparison. Vern’s was almost always more fun.

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