clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

100-Year-Old Cedars Corner Is Now an Incubator for Black-Owned Businesses

Distinctive Vines wine bar and Val’s Cheesecakes join the food and drink offerings in the neighborhood

A two-story brick building with “Piggly Wiggly” painted on the front.
Cedars Corner, featuring the old sign for a Piggly Wiggly dating back to 1923.
Cedars Corner
Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

If it’s been a minute since you’ve driven down Akard Street in the Cedars, you might be surprised to find that a lot of buildings that have been sitting empty now have neon green signs advertising a commercial realtor. The neighborhood has been on a slow build-up, arguably since the Alamo Drafthouse moved in in 2016. Some new, locally-owned spots, including Lee Harvey’s Dive-In and the Autonomous Society Brewpub, have joined the neighborhood in the last year. Visitors to the historic Longhorn Ballroom will also start flooding through the neighborhood when it reopens on March 30.

And the crew at Cedar’s Corner, the building known to passers-by for it’s painted-on Piggly Wiggly sign and the Coke mural facing I-30, have recently welcomed a few new businesses as well. And the crew at Cedar’s Corner, the building known to passers-by for it’s painted-on Piggly Wiggly sign and the Coke mural facing I-30, have launched an incubator for Black and women-owned businesses that aims to not only provide services to the folks who live in the neighborhood but want to help make it a destiation. There’s a second outpost of Val’s Cheesecakes, Koffee Day Spa, art studio Break the Moldz, and coming soon will be Vanity Life Studio. Those join Distinctive Vines, co-owned by Verlin Taylor, which opened in 2021. The upper level of the building houses 14 private apartments.

“Verlin and his team came to us with a great business plan,” developer John Fainter tells Eater Dallas. “We saw their vision, we saw their expertise in different business ventures, and saw their dream that aligned with this space.”

A mural suggests stopping into the Newland Hotel for a Coca-Cola.
The faded Coke mural on Cedars Corner.
Cedars Corner

What Taylor and Fainter envision is a revitalized Cedars, thanks to the passing of Proposition A in the last election. This provided the funds for Dallas to build a new convention center, including plans to build a deck park, not unlike Klyde Warren Park over I-30 which will connect Downtown to the Cedars again. But that plan isn’t expected to be fully realized until 2029. The businesses in Cedars Corner need to flourish now and, as Taylor notes, the neighborhood doesn’t have the flash of the AT&T Discovery District or the wealth of choices that its food hall has to generate foot traffic. But the building does have a lot of history, and Taylor and Fainter are working to make Cedars Corner a destination.

“What I’m finding out is that I have to build more relationships,” Taylor says, noting that he’s partnering with the Joule Hotel and has arranged for guests of Cedars Corner to be able to park at the Lorenzo Hotel a block away. Taylor is also aware that the Cedars is a neighborhood people visit for special events, and he has one in mind. Distinctive Vines will host its first art show starting on April 1. “We’re trying to drive that traffic in... [We’re] going to decorate the walls with artwork. We’re trying to use those kinds of events to pull people in from other areas,” Taylor says.

The revitalization of the building itself will be a draw for some. Preservation Dallas will host an In-Town Outing at Cedars Corner on Saturday, March 25th starting at 10 a.m. for those who’d like to know about the history of the building, built in 1923 and which did in fact house a Piggly Wiggly and the Newland Hotel.

“This is the 100th anniversary of the building. They don’t build things like this anymore,” Fainter says, referring to the exposed brick walls and good bones didn’t require extensive renovation.

One thing Fainter and his crew did do was hire someone to punch up the Coke mural on the side of the building from the 1950s. It still beckons drivers going down Akard off I-30 to stop for a refreshing cola at the Newland. Hopefully it will do the same for the businesses in Cedars Corner.