Once upon a time, Dallas’s historic West End was home to then-hot properties like Planet Hollywood and Spaghetti Warehouse, drawing tourists in from the aquarium, Dealey Plaza, and the convention center. These days, it almost isn’t a destination at all — other than a few notable stops, like Ellen’s for brunch or Record Grill for lunch if you’re in the area. It’s become a bit of a dead zone, abutted by a collection of highways. But a restaurant and entertainment veteran aims to change that with a new, (almost) always-on establishment called the Operator’s Club.
Director of operations Christopher Bohn is behind the venue, which he characterizes as a semi-private club, although it will be available to the public at no charge. Veryable, an app that connects on-demand manufacturing workers and businesses, is a partner in the venue. It currently has its headquarters in the building on the second and third floors of the old Coca-Cola building where the venue will be. The Operator’s Club adopted its term for skilled laborers who use the Veryable platform. Those app users will get preferential treatment in making reservations at the club, as well as access to private areas including meeting rooms. “An operator’s club [is] where guys can come in and talk about their day at work and brag about what they did,” Bohn tells Eater Dallas. Bohn cut his teeth working at corporate restaurant Dave and Buster’s, Texas Live!, and for the hospitality group Front Burner for which he worked on the nationwide expansion of breastaurant chain Twin Peaks.
Operator’s Club will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and midnight on weekends. Service includes coffee in the morning, lunch starting at 11 a.m., and dinner service daily. “In phase one, which opens in June, it’s going to be a bar — a cocktail and sports bar with a lounge area — and some dining tables, with a communal table,” Bohn says. “It will have an industrial speakeasy vibe that’s a little bit swanky.” Operator’s Club’s morning service will feature Oak Cliff Roasters coffee and pastries from Leila Bakery and Cafe, including cinnamon buns, called Sinful Buns, that will also appear on the dessert menu. And, Henry’s Creamery is developing a custom honey lavender ice cream for the club.
The menu is being developed by independent consulting chef John Franke, former research and development chef for the Pappas Restaurants group who is also an alumnus of the Front Burner Restaurants group. Bohn describes the menu as “Guy-Fieri-esque.” An elevated take on barrel nachos — a big ass stack of nachos with barbecue made with fresh ingredients and locally sourced ingredients — is up first. Bohn also describes a mac and cheese burger that he swears will not be a mess to eat. “It’s going to be [made with] wagyu and the macaroni will be in a Panko-breaded puck, so instead of going everywhere and being gooey-nasty, it will be gooey-delicious and fried.” Bohn also teases a prime rib sandwich named The Bear, which will evoke the sandwich from the hit Hulu series, and an Operators’ Club — club sandwich held together with an 18-inch skewer. And yes, there will be lighter items for lunch if a trip to Flavortown feels like a bit much.
There is a Common Desk next door that Bohn hopes to serve folks looking for the convenience of a Starbucks but “a little bit different.” Bohn says customers can expect sports games to be on multiple screens around the location with music. “We’re going to have things to the point of saying, ‘Yes, sorry the music’s loud.’ But we’re not playing Nickelback, so we’ll have fun with it,” Bohn says, listing off Willie Nelson, Kings of Leon, and Tame Impala as additions to the potential soundtrack.
Diners will be able to utilize technology in the restaurant as well, placing orders with full service if they prefer but with the option to order via an app if they’d rather minimize facetime with other people (Attention: introverts).
Bohn is looking forward to bringing his experience at Texas Live! to the Operators Club with events. He mentions food and drink tastings and pairings in the same breath as appearances by Dallas Mavericks cheerleaders and smoke machines — a real high/low mix.
With this location set to open in June, Bohn is already looking forward to another 26 possible locations across the country, with a second in Atlanta already in the crosshairs. “My main thing is, this is my backyard,” Bohn says. “I want to make sure this one is beautiful and that everyone enjoys it.”