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Restaurants / Bars

Iconic Texas Bar Comes Back From the Dead

Local Institution Saved by Two Loyal Employees

BY India Pougher // 02.17.17

Nearly everyone has a story about the original Chelsea Corner, which opened in 1974 in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood. The space transformed into other iterations over the years, including Corner Bar and Grill, which closed in 2015, but now the much-discussed restaurant and taproom has reopened thanks to two loyal former employees.

SMU graduates Len Critcher (of Inwood Tavern) and investor Chris Camillo are reinventing the Dallas hot spot where they worked as bar-backs and waiters during the 1990s.

“Most of us in Dallas have witnessed at least one cherished neighborhood institution fade away in recent years,” Camillo says, “so when we came across the opportunity to revive Chelsea Corner, we couldn’t commit quick enough.”

The duo snagged the property located at the corner of Monticello and McKinney Avenue and began restoring the site, which was built in 1926. The new 4,500-square-foot space is mirrored after the original, with a few updates: an enlarged bar, game room, and patio. With Highland Park to the north and Uptown just south, the pair is capitalizing on their prized locale.

Chelsea Corner’s menu features creations from top Dallas chefs.

Critcher and Camillo enlisted top epicurean talent for the menus (lunch, dinner, brunch) from restaurateur Tracy Rathbun — one-half of the duo behind Shinsei — and also the covert “Chef with No Name.” (Hint: It’s Tracy’s husband, Kent Rathbun.)

Menu highlights include the bar’s famous pizza, burgers, and what Critcher calls “the best steak sandwich I’ve ever tasted,” made with grilled beef tenderloin, brandy butter, caramelized onions, and manchego or blue cheese. A selection of eight cocktails, including a refreshing blood-orange jalapeño margarita, rounds out the brunch menu.

The carefully crafted dishes and historic venue are signs of the boys’ commitment to transforming the bar into an area mainstay.

Says Camillo, “We will measure our success not by how well Chelsea Corner does the next five years, but by how relevant it is twenty years from now.”

Chelsea Corner, 4830 McKinney Ave., 469.726.211.

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