Neighbors get ready to bike, scooter, and walk to new North Dallas Central Market
Tuesday February 14, 2012
Dallas Morning News – by Cheryl Hall
Louise Eiseman goes to more than her share of social events. But none was of more personal interest than the party thrown Tuesday morning by Stephen Butt and the folks at Central Market to show off its new Preston Hollow store.
“A friend asked what was I going to do for Valentine’s Day, and I said, ‘I’m going to the opening of a great grocery store,’” says the 82-year-old grande dame of the jewelry trade in town, who lives about a mile and a half from the store at Preston Road and Royal Lane. “For me, it’s going to be perfect. I live so close that my next aim is to get one of those New York old ladies’ grocery carts and make myself walk up here.”
Someone overhears her comment and chimes in: “Apparently, the Container Store has been selling a lot of the pushcarts.”
Dallas’ upper crust can be tough to impress with a store opening.
But several hundred people braved the cool, misty morning and mingled in the parking lot waiting for a sneak peek at the store, which opens Wednesday.
Meshea Matthews, dean for student affairs at the Hockaday School, was there to support Butt, who supports the private school, but she also lives in the neighborhood. “I was one of those standing at the windows during the construction like the woman in the commercial going, ‘Open, open, open.’ This is going to be amazing. I am definitely a Central Market foodie.”
The uniformed Hillcrest High School Panther Band, perched on an outside landing, serenaded the gathering. A clown on stilts juggled, while a balloon guy handed out lip-shaped creations. It had the old-fashioned feel of a small hometown fair.
Butt told the assemblage of folks, dressed in everything from business suits to yoga attire, that the store holds a special history for his household.
“When our family moved here in 1999, we enjoyed many Sunday afternoons browsing the aisles of the Borders bookstore and on a few occasions were here at midnight for the latest Harry Potter book release.”
Conflict? Not really
In typical mayoral fashion, Mike Rawlings proclaimed the opening “a big day for the city,” and then added: “But Councilman [Ann] Margolin and I are confused. We don’t whether to be excited about this for the city of Dallas or because we’re going to be shoppers here. This is our neighborhood.”
Even Butt admits that limited parking is going to be problematic.
Like Eiseman, other attendees have strategies to skirt the issue.
David Michel, president of Catapult Health, was there with his wife, Deborah. The couple lives two blocks away.
“This is the biggest thing to happen to Preston-Royal in years because finally we can walk to get lobster,” he says. “Accent on walk.”
Actually, Deborah has other plans. She’s going to ride her Vespa scooter since she can get to the store without getting on a major street. “I’m going to park right here in the front,” she says. “I’ll park it on the sidewalk if I have to.”
Margaret Jackson , wife of Lee Jackson, chancellor of the University of North Texas, intends to add a basket to her bike. “I don’t want to have to park here,” she says. “That’s going to be awful.”
Form a line!
The party was like a conga line that snaked its way through the aisles with stops for tastings.
At the forefront was a contingent from the Cooper Aerobics Center led by Ken Cooper. He smiled as he entered the store and saw a bank of colorful fruits and veggies.
As for the store itself, which is half as large as a typical Central Market, the consensus was that it was plenty big enough.
“It could be even a little smaller for my taste,” says Lee Jackson as he finishes the tour. “I do shop for groceries, but I cannot find my way around a grocery store.”
Bringing up the end of the line were three Dallas police officers assigned to make sure that traffic flow and parking don’t become completely snarled in the next few days. They’re bracing for a crush similar to last year’s opening of In-N-Out Burger on Central Expressway.
Rough duty, says Senior Cpl. Karl Kemper, who’s about to score a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. But someone has to do it.