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Restaurants / Closings

Is Cafe Express an Endangered Species?

Restaurants in the Texas Chain Keep Shuttering, Leaving Devotees Wondering What’s Happening to Their Childhood Favorite

BY // 11.06.18

It’s looking like Cafe Express, Texas fast-casual restaurant flagship, home to the world’s greatest salad bar, crisp packaged breadsticks and those oh-so-convenient buzzers, is an endangered species.

Locations have been shuttering left and right from North Texas to Houston, leaving a hole in the lives of so many laidback eaters looking to chow down on a sandwich or simply snag some olives or croutons off the salad bar for casual snacking.

The news of Cafe Express closures has been piling up. But no one ever dreamed that the iconic Cafe Express fixture in Uptown Dallas would close. The McKinney Avenue eatery was nothing short of a staple, welcoming diners for two decades.

It boasted a bright, warm atmosphere from its spacious dining room to its inviting patio.

This isn’t the first time that particular restaurant has bid diners adieu. But now, it’s goodbye for good. The Uptown spot was temporarily closed from 2015 to this past January, plagued with issues due to the construction of the massive, 20-story high-rise M Line Tower.

The Uptown Cafe Express reopened after a dramatic $2-million revamp, making its retirement even more curious to outsiders. Its abrupt goodbye leaves only one remaining location in Dallas — on Lover’s Lane in Park Cities.

The most recent Cafe Express departure from Dallas had been the Mockingbird Station location. It was a part of the area for almost 20 years before closing in late September.

It’s a tough thing, with a lot of the Cafe Express appeal due to the chain’s nostalgic value. Cafe Express opened in the mid-1990s and many of its present-day fans have been going with their families since they were just kids.

In October, Houston’s Briargrove Cafe Express, along Woodway and Voss shuttered. The only location in Austin also shuttered. The Baybrook and Sugar Land locations are a thing of the past as well, along with their brethren in Plano and Southlake.

According to Cafe Express’ website, there are seven remaining still-operating restaurants. Six in Houston and one in Dallas.

M Terry Enterprises purchased the chain and moved the headquarters from Houston to Dallas. This wasn’t the first time Cafe Express’ ownership had changed hands. It had previously been bought by Wendy’s and Houston real estate company Redstone acquired it from them. Of course, the brand originally started with renowned Houston chef Robert del Grande and Lonnie Schiller.

Cafe Express’ current ownership group did not respond to PaperCity‘s request for comment.

So, is Cafe Express in for a rebirth or ruin? Whatever’s happening, it’s happening quickly — exactly what you might expect from an express cafe.

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