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Restaurants / Closings

Pioneering Park Restaurant to Shutter in Dallas, Leaving the Owner Lamenting a Chef Driven Culture

Replacement Spot to be More Affordable and Relaxed

BY // 11.29.18

Klyde Warren Park’s first, trendsetting restaurant is flying the coop. Lark on The Park will soon be no more. It is set to shutter Sunday and eventually be replaced by an all-new concept — opening maybe as early as May.

While this new restaurant will have a different focus, you can count on the charm. Lark on the Park’s owners, restaurateur and entrepreneur Shannon Wynne and partners Keith Schlab and Larry Richardson, are remaining the operators.

Wynne’s other projects include Rodeo Goat, Bird’s Café, Flying Fish and Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. The latter’s setting up an outpost in DFW Airport.

You can eat up your last Lark on the Park meal this Sunday. And in spring, you’ll be in for something more comfortable and affordable.

“We want to do something more neighborhood-centric,” Wynne tells PaperCity. “What I’m hoping for is that the new concept not be so dependent on a chef, but a vibrant personality up front.”

Wynne’s well aware of Dallas —and the entire country’s— love affair with chef-driven restaurants.

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“I have all the respect in the world for great chefs. But sometimes, the tail gets in front of the dog,” he says.

Lark on the Park’s dishes included pork loin cassoulet with brioche, sea scallops and burgundy truffle and grilled wild Spanish octopus with sweet potato. There’s no telling what the new restaurant’s menu will be  — that might be a little like putting the tail in front of the dog.

“I can’t tell you what’s next. I can’t go there,” Wynne chuckles.

But you can bank on a collaboration with some local talent, and a balance between work and play.

Park Wonders, Restaurant Uncertainty

Wynne’s eager to keep this prime, wide open real estate.

“My favorite thing about being next to the park is just the amount of dynamic ability for Dallas, where they can — when the park first opened, nobody knew how to use it. They walked in big circles, they were afraid to walk on the grass,” he says.

“Now there’s people lounging everywhere. It offers a little bit of breath in an otherwise kind of concrete jungle. It’s nice.”

Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park is one of the most unique parks ever built in a major city.

The six-year-old Lark on the Park was the original Klyde Warren Park restaurant.

“The people that are loyal to Lark just love it. Christine Allison from D Magazine said people are sending her condolences because they know how much she loved Lark on the Park and saying how sorry they are that she no longer has a place to go,” Wynne laughs.

One creative spin set Lark on the Park apart — its curated, giant blackboards covered in ever-changing swirls of white chalk.

“We would bring in seven new artists — illustrators — every quarter to change them out. It’s kind of an ode to illustrators instead of artists. Illustrators never get any credit,” Wynne notes. “We wanted to give them credit by putting their name out there and letting them show their work.”

It was a personal touch, something key in an evolving industry. Wynne’s seen the fast-paced changes, and he’s not exactly gung-ho.

Dallas is in an “over-restauranted” environment, he says, with new ones springing up into spaces previously reserved for retail.

“The industry as whole is going through a metamorphosis,” Wynne says. “Nobody’s ever done this. In all cities, dining culture is changing very rapidly with the advent of social marketing and social sales. It’s important for me to focus inwardly, rather than outwardly, for new business.

“It’s the four walls, that’s where the action is. You can post all you want on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. It’s a ridiculous idea that Instagram’s going to save your life — it isn’t.”

It’s not entirely clear what’s next for this prime park space — or for the restaurant industry as a whole.

“Fasten your seatbelt for the next two-to-three years, it’ll be really interesting,” Wynne says.

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