A flagship restaurant in the AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas has closed: Hawthornthe exclusive steakhouse from the Apheleia Restaurant Group (El Bolero, Wits Steakhouse), packed together on the weekend 5-6 march and cleared space.
The restaurant had been closed since mid-February, citing a plumbing problem.
But owner Richard Ellman says it’s only a temporary closure and he’s changing the concept.
“We are temporarily closed, as we have something else going on,” Ellman says. What it is, he doesn’t say.
He says he’s doing a similar reconception at Wits Steakhouse, the restaurant he opened in the Design District in 2022, in the former Oak neighborhood. It is now also temporarily closed.
The AT&T District has suffered a number of closures, most notably Rise + Thyme, the restaurant from celebrity chef Amanda Freitag, which closed in the fall of 2022. But most of the turnover has involved kiosk-style tenants, located inside the venue’s food court.
Hawthorn was a stand-alone restaurant (one of two in the district, along with Jaxon Texas Kitchen) – occupying a separate storefront facing Commerce Street.
It boasted an elegant club atmosphere, with caviar, Wagyu steak and Prime steaks from Allen Bros., plus a separate full menu of sushi, sashimi and raw-bar specialties such as oysters and poke – earning it a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards -nomination in 2021 for best new restaurant.
But unlike the food hall operators, it has a more traditional 10-year lease.
AT&T also requested that Hawthorn be open for lunch and dinner. But the built-in lunch business of AT&T’s headquarters employees has evaporated in the wake of the work-from-home trend.
In recent months, Hawthorn was only open for dinner, Thursday-Saturday.
In a 2022 story about ongoing problems at the AT&T Discovery District, Hawthorn owner Richard Ellman told Dallas Morning News that the business was hurt by scaffolding, a lack of marketing support from AT&T, and parking problems, including an inability to offer valet parking.
Ellman’s restaurant group, like any food and beverage entity, has been hit by the pandemic, with closures that include El Bolero on Fitzhugh Avenue and Pakpao Thai in Preston Hollow Village.
However, the original Pakpao Thai in the Design District is still open, as is El Bolero, which was just nominated for Best Neighborhood Restaurant in CultureMap’s 2023 Tastemaker Awards.