on September 23, 2013 / by Downtown Dallas Inc. / in Blog Posts, DDI News, Dine and Drink

Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) welcomes Joe Groves and Chef Russell Mertz of Ellen’s Southern Kitchen as the soon-to-be new café operators at Main Street Garden.  The café will reopen and expand under the new team by mid-October.

Joe Groves has a long history in Downtown Dallas, as a Main Street resident and former operations director of the technology team who had a hand in the development of Main Street Garden.  Joe is also very active in the West End as a part of The Haunt in the West End Marketplace and an active member of the West End Association.  Chef Russell Mertz is also no stranger to Downtown, having come from the kitchen of long-time West End anchor, The Butcher Shop (newly renamed as South Fork Texas Steakouse).

Groves and Mertz are taking on Main Street Garden inspired by a vision to create a space that feels like “Downtown’s backyard”, serving great food and drink while also providing a place where residents, employees and visitors will want gather, put their feet up and enjoy the surroundings.  The two plan to extend service further throughout the park beyond the café’s current patio boundary and will work closely with DDI to provide items like picnic baskets and wine and cheese trays during events.  They also intend to bring their own programming.  Look for trivia nights, game watching parties and Bingo to return to the café deck.

The menu will consist of upscale “picnic-style” cuisine:  all-day “lunch boxes”, sandwiches, salads, wraps and other seasonal items (i.e. snow cones), all with the quality and richness expected from Chef Russell.   Also look for items with a bit of a creative flair, like an all-day cereal bar.  Groves describes, “We see this in some ways as a food truck without the wheels, so we’re having some fun with the menu.”  Operating hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday – Sunday, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon and evening beer and wine service. The name is still to be determined.

DDI is working with both operators to ensure a smooth transition with as little impact on food and beverage service at Main Street Garden as possible.  During high demand times while the space is being turned over, DDI will program food carts and other mobile concession options, as well as ensure full service at all upcoming events.

“DDI and the City of Dallas opened Main Street Garden in October 2009, and over the last four years, we have watched the space grow and change along with Downtown’s maturation,” said Kourtny Garrett, DDI’s Executive Vice President.  “Pedestrian traffic has increased exponentially, awareness is becoming more widespread and events are becoming a regular occurrence.  People are using the space. As such, we believe we have found an operator with a vested interest in the community who will contribute back to a great experience.    We are grateful to the Rusty Taco team for their partnership over the last year and wish them well in their other ventures.”

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