I took a journey not long ago. In some ways it was a short one. In others it could have been miles. In the course of a few hours I journeyed from down home, traditional Fort Worth to what some are starting to call Far West Dallas.
One Saturday night my wife and I attended a birthday dinner for a young friend. A group met at Joe T’s, and stood in line with hundreds of locals and tourists awaiting a table. It was great! The weather was wonderful. The margaritas were tasty and the beer was cold. The crowd was happy. It was pure Fort Worth!
Sunday we took some friends to Delaney’s Irish Pub on West 7th Street. We had brunch. It was fun. We watched multiple games on multiple television sets. The crowd was boisterous at times. We could have been eating in Dallas.
Please do not take this the wrong way. I love Dallas. One of our daughters lives there. There is nothing I enjoy more than going to Dallas to have an over priced meal at a snooty restaurant and watch everyone pretend they are enjoying themselves.
Okay! I have engaged in a little hyperbole and sarcasm. I apologize. I really have had fun in Dallas at times, and I have had an inexpensive meal there. However, I hate going to Whataburger after the theater just to save a few bucks.
The point is this. Someone has decided that Fort Worth needs to be more like Dallas, or perhaps San Francisco to compete in the 21st Century. To that end downtown Fort Worth, the near west side and the hospital district are being transformed.
The transformation is exciting in some ways. Eating South American cuisine in what was formerly the Women’s Department at Montgomery Ward is a hoot. Having upscale (expensive) tacos a few doors down from the Paris Coffee Shop is fun as well. Change can be delightful. It can also be costly, disconcerting and ultimately disastrous.
The disastrous part starts when the new wears off and reality sets in. To avoid that happening, those behind the changes taking place in Fort Worth are constantly refining and expanding their plans.
The Trinity River Vision is still slogging its way through the challenges caused by political changes and a bad economy. Some are still talking about a trolley system, though that seems to have been sidetracked for a time, if not derailed completely. In the mean time, the transformation is pushed forward.
The new development on West 7th Street continues. The two latest entries in the “how metropolitan can we become” era are Lucky Strike and the soon to be opened In-N-Out Burger. How can it get any better than this? Fort Worth now has an “upscale bowling alley” and a brand new California style burger joint will be opening soon!
In truth, some of these changes are great. The Montgomery Plaza area and the little bit of Dallas on Crockett Street are fun places to eat, drink and people watch. However, there are signs the new may be wearing off. Delaney’s Irish Pub closed recently and Terra Mediterranean Grill looked as if it might be on its last leg when we met some friends there one evening.
I am not certain which will be worse, having the Far West Dallas initiative succeed or fail. If it succeeds, the closest taste of old Fort Worth will be somewhere near Weatherford. If it fails, the fancy 7th Street area will look a lot like parts of Dallas most people don’t visit any longer.