You’ve probably seen the giant, wooden outdoor seating space set up out front of Revelers Hall in the Bishop Arts District. Or at the very least, you’ve seen photos of it circulating online. The new “parklet” takes up an entire parking space — it’s hard to miss. And though the idea of parklets (a cute name for utilizing sidewalk space) feels new to Dallas, they’ve been a thing for years in more compact cities like New York and San Francisco, the latter of which is credited with introducing the concept.
The owner of Revelers Hall, Jason Roberts, is also the founder of Better Block, a nonprofit he began 10 years ago in Oak Cliff to “educate, equip, and empower communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant in neighborhoods.” In other words, the organization creates cool and sometimes temporary set ups, including pop-up shops, bike lanes, and more, to showcase all that a Dallas city block could potentially encompass.
“We’d built a few parklets before,” Roberts tells PaperCity. “And seeing how well they worked, it was the first thing that came to mind when COVID started.” As for the impact it’s created, specifically for Revelers Hall, Roberts believes the extra outdoor space has allowed their doors to open. “We found a way to keep business alive.”
The semi-permanent (hopefully permanent) installation can hold three tables and seat about nine at six feet apart.
Roberts says about 80 percent of their customers have been sitting outside, though there are a few tables inside the intimate Bishop Arts space. The phenomenal live music that Revelers has become known for can be enjoyed from either vantage point.
As parklets have begun catching the attention of other restaurants in the city, Better Block is looking to partner with more businesses, though Dallas’ infrastructure doesn’t make it easy for the structures to pop up.
“It’s all oriented towards cars. If you look at San Francisco or New York, their streets were built pre-car and there are parks every few blocks,” Roberts says. “But here, people are afraid of losing parking.
“Pre-war places like North Oak Cliff, South Dallas, and Old East Dallas weren’t built to have parking lots.”
Parklets are helping to beautify the neighborhood while extending the sidewalk.