First big Fort Worth restaurant to close for good from COVID is Sundance Square anchor

May 14,2020


See full Star-Telegram article by Bud Kennedy here

FORT WORTH

Bird Café, an anchor restaurant in a historic Sundance Square landmark, will close May 22, owner Shannon Wynne and Sundance officials said.

“Coronavirus has worn out our ability to stay open at Bird,” said Wynne, a 40-year Dallas and Fort Worth restaurateur.

His other Sundance Square restaurant and bar, the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, remains open for take-out dining and will resume patio service soon, Wynne said. The family’s related Flying Fish and Rodeo Goat restaurants remain open

Bird Cafe opened in 2013 in the 1889-vintage Land Title Block building, 111 E. Fourth St., on the corner diagonally opposite the Bass Performance Hall.

Bird became the signature restaurant for Bass Hall concertgoers and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition contestants, and drew weekend brunch crowds to Sundance Square Plaza. It was often rated the city’s No. 1 brunch on dining apps or in online polls.

When Bird opened, it was a then-trendy gastropub and brewpub twin to a Dallas restaurant, Meddlesome Moth.

The most recent chef, Brian Olenjack, left recently to become culinary director at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.

Bird’s Victorian building, earlier the home of a working-class plate-lunch cafe, a jazz club and a Tex-Mex restaurant, found a stable tenant in 1995, when Wynne opened his first Flying Saucer there. In 2013, the Saucer moved to larger quarters nearby.

Bird Cafe was known for its interior decorated with the “Birds of Texas” American artworks by Fort Worth artists Scott and Stuart Gentling, who also painted the ceiling of the Bass Hall.

It’s at least the sixth notable local restaurant to close permanently as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, along with Tacos Del Norte (not related to a different Godley restaurant), a Hoffbrau Steak & Grill in Fort Worth (still open in Benbrook, Granbury and Haltom City), a Cork & Pig Tavern on Crockett Row (still open in Irving), a Dixie House Cafe near Mansfield (reopening Monday at three Fort Worth locations) and Buttons Restaurant (moving to Dallas).

In Weatherford, Saltwater closed. A cousin restaurant, Shep’s Place, moved to 202 Fort Worth Highway into the former Shep’s Scoreboard, now named simply Shep’s..

In Dallas, the classic Highland Park Cafeteria will not reopen after 95 years, owners said this week.

(This story has been updated to add the May 22 closing date.)