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An expanded downtown Fort Worth hotel hangs out the ‘welcome’ sign for restaurants

April 17,2023

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Bud Kennedy here.

If any downtown restaurants want to move, the $217 million Omni Fort Worth hotel expansion is offering a location, the company executive told a downtown business audience Friday.

Omni executive Bob Rowling said the hotel is “talking to some downtown restaurateurs” about relocating to the south end of downtown and leasing space in the hotel’s new 400-room second tower, 1500 Houston St.

“It would be really exciting for that to happen,” Rowling said, without naming a particular restaurant.

But Reata, the restaurant that launched “cowboy cuisine” and produced a generation of chefs known for contemporary Western cooking, is among the restaurants looking for a new location.

Reata will leave its current location, 310 Houston St. in Sundance Square, when that lease ends in June 2024, owner Mike Micallef has said.

Micallef declined to respond to Rowling’s comment. Micallef has not hinted at a decision.

But increased convention and tourist business downtown still make the city center attractive, Micallef has said.

The nearby expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center and expanded Texas A&M-Fort Worth campus are part of $2.3 billion in downtown development.

Rowling made the comment at the 41st annual meeting of the downtown business association, Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

He told business leaders that the Omni will double in size to 1,008 rooms, crossing West Fourteenth Street and replacing a former junior college building near West Lancaster Avenue.

Rowling said the hotel hopes to attract restaurants to “activate” the side facing Lancaster.

In March 2022, when Reata announced the search for a new location, Micallef said the restaurant would be seeking 2 acres of land or a 12,000-20,000-square-foot building with up to 200 parking spaces.

At the time, Micallef and other retailers said that the increased prices of valet and surface parking were hurting business in Sundance Square.

Sundance garage parking is free weekdays with validation, weeknights and weekends. But the garages are a two-block walk from Reata.

Reata has already moved once. The original location opened in 1995 and continues to serve Alpine, the largest city in the Big Bend region of Texas.

In 1996, a Fort Worth Reata opened on the 35th floor of the building now known as The Tower, 500 Throckmorton St.

When that location was destroyed in the March 28, 2000 downtown tornado, the restaurant moved again to the three-story former home of the Caravan of Dreams jazz nightclub.

The Omni Fort Worth, 1300 Houston St., opened in 2009. It is currently home to a prime steakhouse, Bob’s Steak & Chop House, and other restaurants, including its Cast Iron all-day dining room and Whiskey & Rye bar and sandwich shop.

The expansion is one of several bringing more than 1,500 new hotel rooms downtown. A Sandman Signature hotel recently opened at 810 Houston St. that will soon include an upscale Asian restaurant, Musume.

A Le Méridien hotel, 815 Commerce St., is also expected to offer full-service dining.

Two major Camp Bowie Boulevard hotels with restaurants are also expected to open this year. Neither the Crescent Hotel Fort Worth nor the Bowie House, Auberge Resorts Collection, has announced a restaurant format or chef.

Locations Mentioned: Bob's Steak & Chop House, Cast Iron Restaurant at the Omni Hotel, Fort Worth Convention Center, Le Meridien (Hilton Annex), Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Reata Restaurant, Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, Sundance Square Plaza, Texas A&M Fort Worth, Whiskey and Rye