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Park Sees Food Supporting 20% of Operations

As Nancy reported earlier on SideDish, that new restaurant at Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park is expected to help support the park’s ongoing operations. So, how much dough will the park pooh-bahs be looking for exactly? According to Jody Grant, chairman of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, a pretty good chunk. The park’s annual operating budget will be about $2.5 million to $3 million, Grant says, and “our challenge will be to run the park on a break-even basis.” He hopes the Savor/Relish venture–a partnership between HM Capital Partners chairman John Muse (photo by Billy Surface) and chef John Coleman, formerly with the Ritz-Carlton here–will “cover as much as 20 percent of our budget–that’s total, for food and beverage services in the park, including catering.”

Don’t expect to sit down for a fancy meal there once the park opens next weekend, though. “The restaurant will open after the park does. We anticipate in the June, July timeframe of 2013,” Grant says. “We might be able to get it open sooner than that, but everything has to work perfectly. Building this restaurant on top of the bridge has been very complex, so what we thought was a perfect plan turned out not to be so perfect. The devil’s very much in the details. Even with simple things, like signage, for example. We’ve spent hours and hours just dealing with the signage issues–how to do it tastefully, so that we don’t have so many signs sticking up that it looks like a cemetery, is a challenge!” Grant made the comments in a special issue of D Magazine about Klyde Warren Park that’s due to “drop” next week.

7 comments on “Park Sees Food Supporting 20% of Operations

  1. So in lieu of paying rent, the restaurant kind of, sort of, peels of an unspecified amount of profit to send to the park foundation to help offset costs? And what happens if it falls short of expectations, do they get the space for free?

    I don’t know a restaurant in town that wouldn’t want that deal.

  2. It would be great to hear from a restaurant person exactly how feasible those financials are.

  3. Where will patrons park? Any restauranteur in Dallas will tell you that folks here will not tolerate difficult parking to eat. If they have valet, can park goers sneak in and use it? Who pays for the lots required for the valet to use? There’s no space allotted for a dumpster, so where’s all the icky restaurant trash go? We’ve been watching this thing be built and have thought all along that the restaurant idea has lots of issues.

  4. First let’s get a few terms straight. A donor is someone who gives their money with no expectation of financial return. A lender is someone who gives their money, expecting it will be returned, plus a percentage amount of interest. An investor gives their money in exchange for ownership, and an expectation of financial return in the multiples of 2x, 3x, 4x the amount given (which is tied to the amount of risk of the investment).

    Edward, it’s hard to say how feasible these numbers are without knowing the total amount of investment. I’m certain Mrs. Muse has excellent taste in decorating, and an upscale restaurant finish out and startup can cost $3 million and up (note: Stampede 66 is at $3.5 million). I’m certain Mr. Muse is an intelligent investor, and he would expect that money to be repaid in 3 years or less. Plus vig. Or not, if it doesn’t break even. That’s the risk he’s taking. If the place isn’t on a lease that requires rent, or a percentage of gross sales (which it could be), then it’s a fair question if the park foundation is last to be paid.

    It gets a little squishy, when you talk about a business that is being semi-funded by taxpayer dollars. The city has not proven it’s a good steward of these food assets (they struggle with the Arboretum, the Lily Pad at Main Street Garden may as well be called the Beer Pad at night). And it would be less problematic if Mr. Muse, even while recusing himself from the vote, wasn’t the financial backer of an asset over which he is also a trustee of.