Since announcing it was seeking a new location in late March, Reata Restaurant has received almost 600 suggestions from the public.
And those suggestions are literally all over the map, according to Mike Micallef, president of Reata Restaurant.
In the next couple of months, Micallef said, he and his team will start sorting through their options.
“I’ve been talking to people on almost a daily basis, and I’ve got meetings coming up with people and some of those meetings are second meetings, so we have some ideas,” he said. However, he gave no hint of where those possible locations might be.
“It’s been gratifying to get all those suggestions,” said Micallef.
Reata Restaurant officials in March announced the iconic Fort Worth restaurant is seeking a new home, asking customers for ideas on where to move. The restaurant’s current lease is up on June 30, 2024, and it has not been able to renew the lease with the landlord, Sundance Square.
“We emailed and asked for a renewal and didn’t get it,” Micallef said in March. “Then we asked for a face-to-face meeting and didn’t get it.”
Micallef still has not heard from Sundance Square officials about the lease, he said.
One key reason for Reata’s move is the high cost of parking in Sundance Square, according to Micallef.
Sundance Square officials say they do not publicly discuss landlord-tenant issues and said all restaurants in Sundance Square have the option to pay for part or all of their customer’s valet parking.
Sundance Square recently announced that Worthington National Bank, Flying Saucer, Riscky’s Bar-B-Q and Mi Cocina have all renewed leases and that two new restaurants are set to open shortly: Paco’s Mexican Cuisine and 3rd Street Market, a sourdough bread bakery and wine bar.
Micallef said that being downtown is still an option and that there are a lot of attractive attributes of having a restaurant in a location with 3,500 hotel rooms and plenty of tourists and convention visitors.
“Even when there’s not a convention going on, those people staying at the hotels still need a good place to go eat, and that’s kind of where we built our business,” he said.
Moving outside of downtown could still work for Reata, Micallef said, but it would be a different sort of business.
“You would have access to a lot of nearby rooftops, but you would not have those nearby tourist customers,” he said.
Some offered suggestions of places planned for development such as Panther Island and a location near the future Texas A&M University buildings on the south end of downtown.
“Those will likely be great locations, but they probably won’t be ready by the time we need them,” said Micallef.
Tony Formby, owner of Acre Distilling, located at 1309 Calhoun St. on the south end of downtown, said he expects that area near the planned Texas A&M buildings will likely be a great location soon.
“Like anything, it may take some time as the convention center gets its upgrades and A&M begins its building program. I think this area will have plenty of restaurant and bar activity,” he said.
When the restaurant began looking at its customer tracking information, Micallef said, it learned Reata customers come “from everywhere.”
“There’s a lot of people from southwest Fort Worth, a lot from Mansfield or Arlington and Grapevine and Weatherford and Aledo. It’s all over,” he said.
Many of the suggestions came from people wanting the restaurant to be located near to their home, he said.
“That was a common suggestion,” he said.
Many people suggested the location of the former Luminarias restaurant, which was on a hill above Interstate 30 near the old KXAS studios on Broadcast Hill.
“I don’t remember that restaurant, but they all had fond memories of it and the great view of downtown,” Micallef said.
Micallef said one thing the search has taught him is that Reata has a good brand.
“Our customers will follow us. I’m confident of that,” he said.
Reata has published location requirements on a website, stating the restaurant is looking for a 12,000- to 20,000-square-foot building and 200 parking spaces, or 2 acres of undeveloped land.
Reata originally opened in 1996 in the 35th floor at The Tower, then the Bank One building. That location, as well as the building, was hard hit by the tornadoes in downtown Fort Worth in March 2000. The restaurant then moved to the former Caravan of Dreams jazz nightclub, part of the Sundance Square development. The restaurant is known for being part of the then-burgeoning Fort Worth restaurant scene. Notable chefs that have worked at Reata Restaurant include Grady Spears, Tim Love and Brian Olenjack.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.