DJ-turned-restaurateur took over old Swirll space.
DALLAS â" Union Park Gastro Bar will open in downtown Dallas this summer, taking over the enviable location on the ground floor of the residential Davis Building at the corner of Main and Field, in what was once the tragically doomed Swirll Wine Bar.
Union Park will be open by mid- to late-July, says owner Jose Quiroga, a DJ-turned-club-owner with many notches on his belt who is stepping more firmly into restaurant turf. In the kitchen: Nhat Ngo, who most previously was at Oak Cliff Smokehouse (formerly known as Luckie's Smokehouse).
"This is my first full-on true sports bar restaurant," Quiroga said. "I've got a great partner in Nhat Ngo. With his experience, we'll do a little barbecue, some pulled pork sandwiches, but it's going to be 60% burgers, and then gastropub food like fried lobster corndogs, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, and chicken waffle sliders -- a lot of comfort food, chicken-fried steak, chicken-fried chicken. Upscale bar food with a twist."
The words "gastro bar" usually imply beer.
"We'll have 30 beers on tap, all craft beer, all from Texas, from Austin to San Antonio to Deep Ellum Brewery -- we're really gearing to the locals," Quiroga said.
Quiroga has an interesting history. He moved here from Katy, Texas, and began his career as a DJ, but he also had construction skills, which set the stage for his transition into club ownership.
"By the time I was 22-23, I'd opened my first nightclub -- I had three in Deep Ellum and Ruby Lounge in Addison," he said. "I came back downtown with a friend in 2005 and opened Mantis, Cameo, and Vice in Fort Worth -- I was there five years, that's where I'm best known. I built and designed all those. I have at least 22 under my belt. I traveled and got a whole bunch of ideas. I'm a big believer in, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know'," he said.
Swirll seemed like a it had potential -- wine bar in downtown Dallas -- but its success was hampered by the inexperience of its owners and the iffy appeal of the make-your-own wine concept. Quiroga is lucky to have snagged the space. His remodel includes a handsome bar at the entry and a swooping kitchen.
"I'd been looking on McKinney Avenue for a year," he said. "There was nothing there and the traffic was out of control. I live here, I know downtown, Iâve been here 10 years. I decided to stick to my backyard."