Up until Fall 2015, Buttons of Addison and Shark Bar of Plano in the upscale Willow Bend Mall were on the go-to circuit of younger and older black professionals. Happy hours at both were quite the draw when they were at the height of their popularity. Some Thursdays, yours truly would do a triple happy hour—hey, that’s what happens when you’re single and your young whipper snappers are in college. I would do my usual happy hour at Blue Fish in Irving, as many of those in my inner circle know well. (I do software design consulting, which takes me to various parts of the Dallas Ft. Worth area, and Irving/Las Colinas is a common spot for my corporate clients).
Around 630pm I would leave there and stop through Buttons in Addison to have their wings and things, plus chop it up with the peeps, maybe exchange flirtations with some fairly well known women and lesser known (some interesting info about celebrities would come up in convo with those in the know). Well to do black folks traveling through Dallas knew to come to Buttons and hang out.
After about an hour or longer of Buttons, I would then venture up Dallas North Tollway from Addison to Shops at Willow Bend Mall to check out the last leg of the happy hour at Shark Bar. It had a very nice, two-level interior décor that you can find somewhere on this site (AffluentBlacksOfDallas.com). The spot it inherited used to be M Bar a few years before Shark Bar came along, and the interior was simpler in design. The happy hour crowd here grew to become pretty cool, though towards the end, whatever troubles were brewing with management soon trickled down and detracted from the vibe a bit. But it was still a cool last happy hour spot before I went home (or wherever any of my friends might have me venture off to if I felt up to it).
Some of the brightest times for Shark Bar was when they had Deborah Cox, the Wayans Brothers, and legendary DJ Kid Capri of Def Comedy Jam, Boogie Down Productions and Heavy D fame. He came on a Fourth of July weekend. He was definitely great (or as is the expression these days, on fleek). His only mistake was that he kept calling Dallas the Midwest, but hey, he’s an East Coast dawg, so no biggie. He DJ’d so well that I wish more of today’s DJs would attend one of his shows to know how to keep a crowd in motion and at peak energy for an entire night without breaking a sweat (well, actually, he did sweat, but you know what I mean). But alas, despite the bright spots, rumors swirled about troubles in management, including alleged disputes over profit sharing among investors and allocating capital for basic operating expenses, that led to Shark Bar’s demise, signified by the doors being chained shut on a Thursday when I tried to go there for happy hour. I saw all these people sitting outside looking sad, and I asked what happened? One of them, a younger sista, said they shut down, but she didn’t know why. I found out later, as outlined above.
Alas, now the black professionals of the northern Dallas suburbia (Plano, Far North Dallas, Carrollton, Frisco, McKinney, The Colony, etc) have to wander far off to replace the two iconic spots. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, many of these black professionals are gravitating to Kona Grill in the chic and toney West Plano Village. I like this spot a lot as my Yelp reviews show, and on Friday nights, Kona Grill has finally spotted this trend and has responded in some subtle ways. But since Kona Grill closes at midnight, we still need a post-midnight lounge spot. Since Kona is in West Plano Village, an available retail spot nearby would work. Shops at Legacy a few miles north is also in need of a professional lounge that caters to similar demographics (Blue Martini has late Friday nights with DJ SC, a brotha man I’ve known off and on since Blue Martini opened in 2012), so hopefully more professionals show up then. Blue Fish in Plano at 121 and Dallas North Tollway near Granite Park, the Hilton Hotel and Blue Mesa Grill also draws professionals on Fridays and other evenings. Ra Sushi in Shops at Legacy and in Addison have periodic clusters of brothas and sistas, and groups like LCUPN (Legacy Corridor Urban Professional Network) tend to bring out a lot of professional blacks to such spots as I’ve attested to in person. Moreover, I know that black-owned spots like Smokin Racks near Collin Creek Mall tried to hold it down with a nice setup and great BBQ, but it has since went out of business, from what I hear. The Daquiri Shoppe in Carrollton (1837 W Frankford Rd Carrollton, TX) has been attracting an African American demographic on certain days, but might be a bit smallish for serious networking (just my observation). So if there are any other spots I may have missed, hit me up below or DM me on Instagram (@bruvajc or @johndavison2016). John Davison on Facebook is fine, too.
As for my professional brothas and sistas throughout the rest of DFW, I get around (in the words of the late urban philosopher Tupac). Southlake Town Center has been coming up in the game, so I need to head back up there to check out the newest Ra Sushi and other new spots. In the Las Colinas part of Irving, I’m at Blue Fish, Cheddars, Applebees (yes, they have some cool happy hours at this particular location) and On the Border. I do other spots nearby, too. I’m all over Dallas when there, and in Ft. Worth, it’s downtown typically. If y’all wanna do a spontaneous happy hour as Spring and Summer is upon us, just holla (yes I’m from L.A. and said “y’all” lol). Here’s to future happy houring with ya!