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Yep, They Turned Denton’s Fry Street Into Plano

The Denton Record-Chronicle notes that the first residents (students, mostly) are moving into the brand spanking new Sterling Fry Street mixed-used development at the corner of Fry and Hickory streets in Denton, right across from the University of North Texas campus.

Early last year, I waxed nostalgic in the pages of D Magazine, about my many hours of youth misspent on that block. At the time the parcel of land had been sitting empty, in limbo, for three and a half years. I talked to the longtime owners of the much-beloved Tomato pizza joint, who had been forced from their building when developers swooped in and decided to create something new. There were hopes that the Tomato could return to Fry Street, though I doubted whether it could ever again be what it once had been without a space anywhere near as expansive or distinctive as the original restaurant’s.

Since then, some former employees of the Tomato have reopened under the old name, using the old recipes, in the nearby town of Sanger instead. And the Sterling project – with 194 apartments, a six-story parking garage, and 10,500 feet of retail space – finally got built. It’s surely a nightmare come true for people like cantankerous 70-something Bob Clifton, who told me for my story:

“The thing about Denton, the thing that attracts people to Denton, is Denton was a funky town. Musicians could come up here, 10 of them live in a f—ing house, dope flows like it’s going out style, everybody’s laid-back, not giving a s— about nothing, and it’s just funky,” he says. “They’re turning it into Plano.”

My guess was that the new development was much more likely to become home to a Starbucks, a Chipotle, and a Quizno’s than a mom-and-pop operation like the Tomato.  And what, according to the DR-C, will open there?

Retail space will be filled by Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Chipotle Mexican Grill, MacDaddy’s Macaroni and Cheese Bar and the recently announced GRIP Mediterranean Grill.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop will be the first restaurant to open, on Tuesday, and Chipotle will open Aug. 28.

MacDaddy’s will open in about a month, Dinerstein said, and GRIP will open in early October.

I stand by my claim “it’s a scientifically proven fact that it’s impossible for a person to create fond memories of a place as fungible as a Chipotle.”

But, regardless, I’ve already banked my fun times on Fry Street. I may have to give this MacDaddy place a try.

11 comments on “Yep, They Turned Denton’s Fry Street Into Plano

  1. One reason I changed my mind about moving to Rockwall – they are making it Plano By The Lake. I want out of Plano, not move somewhere just like it! I’m a student at UNT and lament the encroachment of suburban sissydom…Each community loses its identity and character and becomes just like another.

  2. Good memories at the Tomato and Jim’s Diner. Those places will always be Denton to me. Now UNT will just be like TCU or UT.

  3. When I was in grad school at Michigan, my girlfriend and I went to Qdoba (Chipotle’s stepbrother) every Sunday night, capping off fun weekends with burritos the size of a hutch football. We created fond memories there. The last time we ate there, we started a discussion that led to her admission of her cheating on me, thus erasing the fond memories and proving Jason’s theory true.

  4. Plano vs. Rockwall, it is all Generica. Drive cross-country and all the suburban rings around large cities look exactly the same.

  5. I have fond memories of having margaritas for dinner on the patio of a very generic Taco Cabana with my best friend in college. It is harder to build memories in a generic place, but as places become more generic I think this generation will find ways to cope. After all, they don’t have to remembr phone numbers. Their lives are so much easier!

  6. Fry Street simply moved to the square, which used to be a forlorn podunk wasteland with a pawn shop, a storefront praise Jesus place, a sad old antique mall, two cheesy restaurants and a very cool book store (it’s still there). Now it’s happenin’, a real scene.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fellow mourner. But Denton will soldier on without the beloved Flying Tomato (I think I just dated myself). In fact, I’m pretty sure that as I type this, there is a houseful of 10 musicians within two blocks of the new Plano-esque development, and one of them is rolling a joint on an album cover. It’s probably not a Camper Van Beethoven album cover. Because things change. Just not at their heart.

  7. @Daniel: Absolutely, the Courthouse Square is a way better place than it was when I was kid, or even just 10 years ago. Denton has not completely lost its cool.

    Just a shame to see it have to lose any of its cool.

  8. Let’s Occupy Denton and make it cool!!!! I know, it’s just cool evolving but who decided that Generica is cool?

  9. I so miss Fry St. My friends and I could go to Fry at three a.m. on a weeknight and there would still be interesting things to watch. I haven’t been back to Fry Street since demolition started: I really don’t want to see it gone. Fortunately, UNT is still odder than any other university in Texas, and Denton remains, if you’re willing to dig a little.

  10. Fear not. There is still a church occupying the Fine Arts Theatre on the Square, and a storefront praise Jesus place a block away.

  11. I still think that the initial proposal for Fry St. (the one that the City Council didn’t approve because of purported danger to pedestrians from a pharmacy drive-in – what a joke!) was a happy medium between the old and new and a much better solution to what we have now with Sterling.

    That being said, I hold no fond memories of Tomato’s. It was just another pizza place, only grungier. Besides, their pies had a strange undertaste of something that resembled pizza but was far removed from what is usually sold under that name. I’ll take Potbelly’s great-tasting sandwiches at a reasonable price any time over Tomato’s.
    BTW, Chopsticks’ is doing much better in its new location, it looks better, it’s cleaner, and it has much better food. So much for the Fry St. area magic.