Restaurants / Closings

San Antonio Restaurant Favorite Suddenly Shutters After Just a Few Months in Dallas

Inside the Hot Joy Mess

BY // 11.08.17

Asian fusion restaurant Hot Joy shuttered its Uptown pop-up after only three months in business. The San Antonio-based eatery came to Dallas in July with a plan to stay for two years. However, after a few months of slow business and increasingly critical reviews, Hot Joy abruptly dropped its North Texas project.

Owner Chad Carey tells the San Antonio Current that the restaurant was not “connecting with Dallas” the way that he hoped it would.

Despite its notable success in San Antonio, the restaurant’s Dallas outpost fell flat. Hot Joy’s wild cuisine garnered shaky reviews from Dallas restaurant critics for being both over-the-top and lacking in flavor. The restaurant never aimed for authenticity, instead served a slew of imaginative dishes vaguely inspired by Asia as a whole. There were some hits, like the famous crab fat caramel wings, and many misses, like the cheeseburger-stuffed spring roll. However, this jumbling of cultures resulted in a bigger problem.

Just a week before closing, Hot Joy was back in the news for cultural appropriation in its decor. The restaurant’s ultra-kitschy surrounds included everything from paper dragons to anime drawings to buddhas to Chinese masks topped with Vietnamese-style hats. Critics and diners were quick to call out the restaurant for taking these objects out of context and objectifying Asian culture. A particularly tough review headlined “Hot Joy’s Food Is Almost as Bad as Its Cultural Cluelessness” ran in the Dallas Observer days before the restaurant shuttered.

Ultimately, Hot Joy closed because it simply didn’t do as well in Dallas as it has in San Antonio. Carey tells San Antonio Current that business was slow at the Dallas location and “it made sense to call it a day.” The original San Antonio location will not be affected by the closure.

Front Burner Restaurants will have the building for the remainder of the two-year contract. Keep an eye out for another pop-up in the Uptown space.

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