Burger Shutter

Fort Worth's Food Hall at Crockett Row loses its celebrity chef burger

Fort Worth's Food Hall at Crockett Row loses its celebrity chef burger

Knife pimento cheese burger
The burgers have won many awards. Photo by Shana Anderson

Burger fans in Fort Worth had best get over to Crockett Row stat: Knife Burger, the concept from Dallas chef John Tesar, is closing its stand at the Food Hall in mid- to late-July.

Tesar confirmed that he would be closing "in 2 or 3 weeks."

The chef says that food halls "are for the landlords" and those who need a leg-up. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that food halls were "too much work — and in the case of Crockett, not enough business."

Kevin Lillis, CEO of Hospitality Alliance, Crockett Row, said in a statement that they already have a replacement for the space.

"We decided to end our lease agreement with John Tesar to close Knife Burger on June 30, as he was unable to uphold his responsibilities as a tenant," Lillis said. "We remain big fans of his food and wish him the best."

Lillis said that the replacement will be another burger spot: Stockyards restaurant Hooker's Grill, known for its onion fried burgers, and it'll "soft open" by the end of July.

Tesar, former executive chef at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, rose to fame after competing on Top Chef, where he made it to semi-finalist status. He's a press darling who's been written up in Esquire, Food & Wine, New York Magazine, and The New York Times. He has also appeared on The Today Show, The Early Show, and Food Network's Extreme Chef, which he won.

Knife Burger opened at the Crockett Row food hall in December 2018. Other eateries on their list include acclaimed pizza concept Abe Fromans, barbecue stand Not Just Q, Gigi's Cupcakes, and the recently opened Monkey King, doing dumplings only.

Tesar's departure follows his similar departure from another food hall — Legacy Hall in Plano — which he left in February, following a dispute over his contract with owner Front Burner Group, stating that the profits are "tilted in their favor, and they just keep tilting it."

He has no shortage of projects, many across the country, including OuterReef, a new restaurant he's opening in Laguna Beach, California, on October 1, which will specialize in seafood, California produce, and a few Texas steaks.

In addition, he's opening two restaurants in Orlando, Florida, including a new location of Knife, his high-end steakhouse; and Spoon, the seafood restaurant he previously operated in Preston Center.

"I have too much to do and too much going on to balance the food hall stand," he says.

Lillis says that the Food Hall at Crockett Row has seen a "steady increase" in overall sales and foot traffic since its grand opening in December, with an increase in month-over-month sales and more than 1,000 patrons each day.

"With the amount of Food Hall's activity, we've experienced an increased demand in tenant leasing spaces, so we are working to modify stall sizes to welcome more new concepts," Lillis says. "We will continue to stay in touch soon with additional tenant news."