We all know how the Bishop Arts area of Oak Cliff grew from the seeds planted by a few local businesses seeking to find success in an urban neighborhood that many retailers had previously overlooked. Today, Bishop Arts’ line-up of one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops draws the types of crowds that those early businesses could only dream of.
Now we’re seeing a new urban retail district emerge in Fort Worth, one whose momentum is drawing comparisons to Bishop Arts.
The area, just south of downtown and called the Near Southside, is gaining the critical mass and locally grown charm that should ensure its continued success. Comparisons to Bishop Arts have resulted because the area is:
• Surrounded by several of Fort Worth’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.
• Seeing an influx of younger residents attracted to its sense of place and its loft apartments, townhomes, restaurants and coffee shops, live music, theater, pubs, historic landmarks, and more,
• A walkable district.
The comparisons between the two urban districts can also be seen in the second locations for vegan restaurant Spiral Diner, a Near Southside mainstay that expanded in 2008 to Bishop Arts, and for Bishop Arts’ well-known Dude, Sweet Chocolate, which recently opened a satellite location in Near Southside’s Avoca Coffee.
Long-time businesses in the Near Southside area include Paris Coffee Shop, Chat Room Pub, Hot Damn Tamales, and several others. These are being joined by newcomers like Ellerbe Fine Foods (named one of the 10 best new restaurants of 2010 by Bon Appetit), Shinjuku Station (honored by Texas Monthly as one of the 10 best new restaurants in the state), Avoca Coffee, Yucatan Taco Stand, and several others.
Businesses in the works include a two-screen art house cinema, a market and deli, a coffee house and live music lounge, and new residential and mixed-use construction designed to fit the neighborhood’s character.
As in Bishop Arts, entrepreneurs have to be willing to deal with risk when opening in the Near Southside. But that risk—and the potential reward—is helping enhance one of Fort Worth’s most unique districts.