For weeks I had caught the occasional comment over coffee or lunch meetings: “I hear Royal Blue is leaving Highland Park Village.” I had refused to believe it, despite the trustworthy sources and the assumed harsh realities of a boutique grocer trying to survive the pandemic. In its short five-ish year run in Dallas, the Austin-based brand had quickly grown near and dear to my heart, not so much because of its groceries (perhaps that’s part of the problem), but the lovely, convenient destination it created to grab a glass of wine or a Stumptown coffee. This week, however, my fears were confirmed with a Dallas Morning News headline.
The local locations of Royal Blue Grocery would be rebranding (as Berkley’s Market) and its inaugural Dallas doors would close in Highland Park Village.
You would think after a year of general pandemic-induced uncertainty this particular closing might not affect me so intensely. After all, we’ve already said goodbye to so many beloved spots, from Macellaio to Peggy Sue Barbecue. But the news hit me harder than a bottle of rose you bought at Royal Blue Grocery to be economical (it was marked down) then accidentally drank the entirety of at 3 pm on a Friday. Hey, you got a good people-watching spot on the patio. You can’t just give those up!
In the picturesque, luxury setting of Highland Park Village, Royal Blue was always an accessible gathering point, somewhere you could feel comfortable sitting in workout clothes or posting up after a long walk with your dog. In Dallas proper as a whole, the spot was idyllically central — if you weren’t quite sure where your coffee guest was driving from, suggesting Royal Blue in Highland Park Village always seemed like a considerate bet.
It was also a place for discovery. Unlike most grocery stores, where you often enter on a mission, Royal Blue was home to unique, often locally-sourced brands and offerings from Dallas favorites. Presumably, Berkley’s Market will maintain that experience (with plans to fine-tune their local focus, according to a press release) in its locations on Main Street, in the Arts District, and its upcoming outpost at 634 W. Davis Street in Oak Cliff (local owners told the Dallas Morning News they were looking for a new spot in Highland Park).
Word has been (and was confirmed in the Morning News) that New York City brunch staple and deli Sadelle’s (owned by the same company, Major Food Group, responsible for bringing Carbone to the Design District) will be opening this fall. Known for serving up bagels and lox on extravagant silver tiered trays and a whimsical design envisioned by Ken Fulk — his most recent work at Lutie’s Garden Restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate is well worth a journey to Austin. According to The Dallas Morning News, Sadelle’s in Dallas plans to offer breakfast tacos, and will include a coffee bar and patisserie.
I’m sure Sadelle’s will be an excellent addition to Highland Park Village. I love a New York-style bagel and an Aperol Spritz as much as the next person. But I won’t soon forget the Royal Blue years. Raise a Stumptown-filled mug to the beloved spot before its final day on June 27.