This year's hottest headlines
Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, we look back at the 10 most-read restaurant and bar stories of 2020. It's a list that demonstrates the unprecedented challenges the dining industry faced due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were new restrictions to keep up with and some sad closures — but also a few success stories. An Irish pub got settled in, and a taco truck dished out one of the hottest food trends of the year. These are the dining stories that Fort Worth readers devoured this year.
1. Fort Worth's Alliance center lures in laid-back Truck Yard from Dallas. Alliance Town Center, the 900-acre master-planned community at AllianceTexas in far north Fort Worth, lured in a laid-back concept founded in Dallas: Truck Yard, an indoor-outdoor hang with food trucks, drinks, games, and space for pets. The new venture was announced in January, expected to open in fall 2020, but has not yet opened.
2. Master list of Fort Worth restaurants reopening dining rooms May 1. Armed with gallons of sanitizer, face masks, and in some cases, plastic table barriers, dozens of restaurants around Fort Worth made plans to reopen for dine-in service on May 1 after their coronavirus shutdowns. The State of Texas gave permission to restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to reopen, as long as they limited occupancy to 25 percent and followed strict regulations that would continue through the rest of the year.
3. Restaurant cocktail kits ease the booze blues in Fort Worth. In a spring when the virus had completely disrupted daily life, TABC loosened its reins on to-go cocktails thanks to a waiver issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. While there was still some grappling with what, exactly, the "mixed beverage" waiver meant, restaurants seized the day (and the revenue opportunity) by packing cocktail kits for drive-by customers; these were some of the best options.
4. Cult California Fatburger chain opens first Texas location in Dallas-Fort Worth. One of California's most beloved burger chains made its Texas debut: Fatburger, a chain founded in Hollywood more than 70 years ago, opened a location in the mid-cities, specifically North Richland Hills, where it's part of a co-branded concept along with Buffalo's Express, a chain that specializes in wings. The restaurant opened on June 1 and had a line out the door all day.
5. Ireland native opens proper Irish pub in Fort Worth's West 7th district. In January, there was a new bar coming to Fort Worth that would fill a mostly unfilled niche: the Irish pub. The bar was called Trinity College Irish Pub, and it later opened in the West 7th corridor at 910 Currie St., formerly home to Tortaco. The pub earned immediate raves for its classic Irish dishes and weekend brunch, as well as its expansive patio for outdoor dining.
6. Only one Fort Worth spot lands on Texas Monthly's best new restaurants list. One Fort Worth restaurant got the nod from Texas Monthly in the magazine's annual assessment of the state's best new restaurants, published in January. Titled "The Best New Restaurants in Texas for 2020," the list ranked 10 establishments as well as honorable mentions. Gemelle, the Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Tim Love, came in at No. 9.
7. Crispy grilled tacos are the thing at this exciting new Fort Worth food truck. In May, a new food truck on the city's east side was making a name for itself in Fort Worth food circles for serving two distinctive items: grilled tacos and ramen. Called Calisience, it permanently parked at 3318 E. Belknap St., and was the first food endeavor from Jacqueline Anaya, a native of Los Angeles. Birria tacos proved to be one of the biggest food trends of the year across DFW.
8. These Fort Worth restaurants forced to close temporarily due to coronavirus. It was not “goodbye,” it was “see you later.” That was the hope for these Fort Worth restaurants that chose to cease all operations amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which forced bars and restaurants to close their dining rooms in March. Some attempted curbside pick-up and delivery, even offering alcohol to-go. But many found that take-out dining did not allow them to keep the lights on.
9. Bird-themed restaurant in Fort Worth's Sundance Square flies away. After seven years, a restaurant in downtown Fort Worth surprisingly called it quits: Bird Café, located on the edge of Sundance Square Plaza, closed on May 22. Owner Shannon Wynne blamed the coronavirus for the closure. It would become the first of several big downtown restaurant closures throughout the year.
10. Fort Worth restaurant with comforting breakfast and brunch closes down. After just three months in business, FiVi's Kitchen closed on November 21. The breakfast and brunch restaurant had made an early splash in West Fort Worth when it opened in late summer, doing a modern version of a good old-fashioned diner. But with the coronavirus and a lack of business, the owners said it was not sustainable and chose to shutter for good.