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GM Heidi Thorp on Acme F&B's Relaxed Vibe

This is The Gatekeepers, in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite hard-to-score tables. This installment: Acme F&B general manager Heidi Thorp

Since it opened on McKinney Avenue a mere four months ago, Acme F&B has been lavished with praise by critics for its whole animal allocation program, the first of its kind in the city. Dishes like beef tongue schnitzel and previously unappreciated cuts like lamb breast share the menu with haute twists on comfort classics like chicken and dumplings and potato skins. But the food isn't the only draw.

The newest project from chefs Colleen O'Hare and Jeana Johnson of Good2Go Taco fame has carved out a niche in the Dallas restaurant scene with its 'come-as-you-are' fine dining—that is, white tablecloth-worthy food and drink served not in a stuffy, hushed dining room but in a relaxed, rustic-chic setting that feels more like a cushy mountain ski lodge—and Dallas diners are filling the seats nightly.

It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. What's the wait for two walk-ins?
Well, we do keep the patio open for walk-ins only, so you can always go to the bar or there's typically a patio table open—the weather's been perfect so lots of people are requesting the patio. For a table inside, maybe twenty minutes. We're usually pretty quick to get people in. On the weekends reservations fill up pretty quickly, so if you want a table on Friday or Saturday I'd recommend calling a week in advance or so.

Where's your favorite table in the restaurant?
I really don't feel like there's a bad table in the house. But if it's a date, I'd definitely recommend this table up here in the corner [points to corner banquette up on platform]. It's cushy and cozy, you get a really good overview of the restaurant.

Do you guys have regulars yet?
We're in our fourth month so we're really starting to see that return business and starting to recognize some faces. We get a lot of restaurant people for sure, and also people from the neighborhood.

What's the vibe in the dining room like on a busy night?
We want it to be relaxed, We don't want to be the place where people feel like they have to get all gussied up. So often you walk into a restaurant and it's a really stuffy environment, you almost become this totally different person when you walk in—we just want you to be able to come in with your friends and enjoy a really nice relaxed atmosphere.

People are buzzing about the creative cocktail menu. Are you doing a brisk bar business?
Fridays and Saturdays for sure, it's an awesome place to come in around 5 or 6 p.m after work, grab a drink at the bar and lounge by the fire, especially with the weather getting a little chilly. We've got the bar in the front and a bar in the back so there's plenty of seating. We're also excited about doing brunch here in the near future—we do love our brunch in Dallas.

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