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Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 12 best Fort Worth bars to watch TCU Football in the National Championship. The biggest football game in Horned Frog history is happening Monday, January 9 as TCU takes on No. 1 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship (6:30 pm local time). There’ll be watch parties all over town as Fort Worth unites to cheer on the home team. Here are 12 of the best bars to do so. And if you're heading west to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the “Natty,” here's a guide to parties, parking, and more.

2. Famous Watauga gas station restaurant (and Guy Fieri favorite) will close. A restaurant made famous by Food Network's Guy Fieri is closing: Chef Point Bar & Restaurant, the restaurant-in-a-gas-station in Watauga, will close at the end of January after 20 years. The restaurant will close its location at 5901 Watauga Rd. on Sunday, January 29.

3. These are the 10 hottest stories that had Fort Worth talking in 2022. What was Fort Worth reading in 2022? We are so glad you asked. Readers craved news about a new, state-of-the-art McDonald's; Christmas light attractions; and visits from Yellowstone royalty and real British royalty. Here was our look back at the 10 most-read CultureMap stories from the previous year.

4. Travel + Leisure heralds Fort Worth among world's 11 best places to visit this January. A national magazine is proclaiming what Fort Worth residents already know - that the city is a pretty great place to be this month. A new report by Travel + Leisure has named Fort Worth one of the 11 best places to travel in the United States and around the world in January 2023. But the story has one big omission.

5. Yellowstone stars blaze into our 10 hottest Fort Worth society stories of 2022. As we looked back at the most popular society stories of 2022, a clear theme emerged: Yellowstone. Red-carpet and black-tie events featuring stars from Taylor Sheridan's hit show landed on the list three times. Fort Worth philanthropists also shined up their stilettos for the first Jewel Charity Ball since the start of the pandemic, donned their ballgowns for an elegant FWSO Gala, and slid on their cowboy boots and hats for Cowtown Ball.

Famous Watauga gas station restaurant (and Guy Fieri favorite) will close

Guy Fieri News

A restaurant made famous by Food Network's Guy Fieri is closing: Chef Point Bar & Restaurant, the restaurant-in-a-gas-station in Watauga, will close at the end of January after 20 years.

The restaurant will close its location at 5901 Watauga Rd. on Sunday, January 29, 2023.

In good news, its second location in Colleyville, at 5220 TX-121 will remain open.

According to a release, husband-and-wife owners Franson Nwaeze and Paula Nwaeze have decided to scale back operations to just the Colleyville location so that they can enjoy family, friends, and life.

"While somber and hard, it is satisfying that our Watauga location is closing its doors at the top of its game when the food, service, and customer satisfaction have never been higher," Paula Nwaeze says in a statement.

Founded in 2003, Chef Point Watauga rocketed to international fame in 2011 when Guy Fieri featured them on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, spotlighting their fine-dining menu including dishes such as duck l'orange and swordfish stuffed with crab, as well as their signature bread pudding.

They subsequently earned features by CNN, Paula Dean, Fox News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Texas Monthly, Food & Wine, Zagat, and more.

Buoyed by their success, they opened their second location in Colleyville in 2018, where they duplicated their fine-dining menu, full bar, and wine list, in a bigger space, with live music and a dog-friendly patio.

The Colleyville location will remain open for lunch, dinner, brunch, and is available for catering and on-site events.

For their Watauga goodbye, the couple will host a week-long going-away party beginning Saturday, January 21.

Plow Burger

Vegan burger food truck from Austin closes outpost in Denton

Vegan News

A cool concept from Austin that expanded to the DFW area in 2021 has closed: Plow Burger, a food truck with a vegan menu that was set up across from UNT in Denton, shut down in December, and has no plans to reopen.

A spokesperson said that the closure was predicated on a variety of factors that included the pandemic and an unsustainable increase in the cost of goods.

Plow Burger was founded in 2018 by Isaac Mogannam and partner Jason Sabala, founder of Buzz Mill Coffee in Austin, where they set up their first food truck location.

They've been called "a vegan and meat-eater's food truck heaven," with burgers so flavorful that meat-lovers might fail to notice the difference, and won an award in 2018 for "Plant-Based Burger Supremacy" from the Austin Chronicle.

Their menu includes burgers, wings, and fries that are all plant-based, such as the Campfire burger, with cheese, pickles, mayo, shoestring onions, and barbecue sauce.

The expansion to Denton was initiated in July 2021 by Ed Soto, a veteran chef and manager who's worked at restaurants such as Cru, Ferre, and Coal Vines. He'd worked with Mogannam, and was also a Plow Burger regular in Austin.

The location was doing well, but Soto was in a car accident in March, when he was hit by someone "going way too fast." His vehicle was totaled and he suffered injuries including a fractured wrist, although he says it wasn't a factor in the closure.

"I'm still recovering from it with a possible second surgery at some point in the next year or two," Soto says. "But I'm grateful to my staff, who have been a wonderful and standup crew, who really came through after my accident."

The company has also undergone management changes including the amicable departure of co-founder Mogannam, who has been developing other concepts including Mission Street Burrito, which does vegan/vegetarian burritos, nachos, and suizas; and Eat Fair Game, a new concept that does a vegan twist on Italian food including pizzas and pastas.

Denton remains a vegan mecca thanks to concepts such as Mean Greens, the groundbreaking all-vegan cafeteria at UNT; Mashup Market, the all-vegan grocery store; Soulgood, a vegan restaurant on the campus of Texas Woman's University; and Pepitas Vegan Cocina, the family-owned vegan Mexican restaurant.

Photo by Shelley Neuman

Willie Nelson-ZZ Top concert takes spotlight in this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this Christmas weekend? Find that list here. Searching for the best Christmas lights? Those lists are here and here.

1. Texas legends Willie Nelson and ZZ Top team up for concert at iconic Hill Country venue. Next April, "Shotgun Willie" will be a "Sharp Dressed Man." Taking the iconic stage at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Willie Nelson and ZZ Top will perform together on April 14 and 15, 2023. The shows come before ZZ Top teams up with Lynyrd Skynyrd at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on July 29, 2023.

2. Fort Worth's animal shelter holds event to get dogs out of the cold. Fort Worth is seeking help to solve a crisis at its animal shelters, which are brimming with pets. Fort Worth Animal Care and Control (FWACC) is facing a record-high population, and is inviting the public to come in and adopt or foster an animal. While one special event took place December 16-17, the initiative will be ongoing.

3. Fort Worth's award-winning Vietnamese restaurant Four Sisters to close. An award-winning Vietnamese restaurant in Fort Worth has closed: Four Sisters - Taste of Vietnam, the acclaimed, family-centric restaurant located at 1001 S. Main St. that is literally named for the owner's four sisters, has closed after four years. According to owner Tuan Pham, the restaurant's final day would be December 23.

4. Son of a Butcher restaurant with sliders & shakes to open in Grapevine. A restaurant that specializes in sliders is coming to Grapevine: Son of a Butcher, which currently has locations in Plano and Dallas, will open a new one at 480 W. SH-114, with an opening set for February 2023. This will be the biggest yet, with 3,405 square feet of indoor and pet-friendly outdoor dining space.

5. Vegan pastry and coffee shop opens in Fort Worth with best inspiration: mom. There's a new place to get vegan food and great coffee in Fort Worth: Called Von's Coffee Shoppe, it's a virtual restaurant operating out of Fort Worth Food Works, the restaurant hub at 3004 Cullen St., where it's serving vegan pastries, omelets, burritos, wraps, and soups. Von's was founded by Monique Farrell, a food & beverage veteran with more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry who is taking her first step into entrepreneurship.

Photo courtesy of Lightscape

Lightscape at Fort Worth Botanic Garden temporarily closes amid extreme winter weather

Frozen out

Lightscape, the new walk-thru holiday lights experience at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, is closing Thursday, December 22 due to harsh winter weather conditions.

In a Facebook post, organizers said, "Due to inclement weather, Lightscape is closed for Thursday, Dec. 22. We will be monitoring temperatures and wind speeds for Dec. 23. Watch this space for current information. Stay safe—and warm!"

A spokeswoman for the event adds that ticketholders for December 22 have been offered the chance to reschedule.

"As of right now, tomorrow (Friday) is still open, however, the FWBG is closely monitoring temperatures and wind speeds," she says.

An arctic front is bringing dangerously cold temperatures and strong winds to Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday. A wind chill watch has been issued for all day Thursday through Friday morning. It started snowing in Fort Worth Thursday morning.

"Simply, it will be very cold and potentially dangerous if precautions are not taken," WFAA meteorologists say. "Exposed skin can get frostbite very quickly with the cold on Thursday into Friday."

Lightscape is the third major local holiday event to to announce a weather-related cancellation; Enchant at Fair Park will also stay dark Thursday, and Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie is canceling Thursday and Friday.

Making its North Texas debut this year, Lightscape illuminates the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with a one-mile-long outdoor path with suspended strands and tunnels of light, a fire garden, undulating wave of bluebonnets, singing trees, treetop sculptures, and and artistic installations. Read more about what to expect here.

Timed tickets, $18-$28 (along with $20 on-site parking passes), are available here. It runs through January 8.

For more spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas-Fort Worth, go here.

Photo courtesy of Prairie Lights

Grand Prairie's Prairie Lights goes dark for 2 nights due to frigid weather

Arctic blast alert

Prairie Lights, the beloved drive-thru Christmas Lights park in Grand Prairie, is closing for two nights - Thursday, December 22-Friday, December 23 - due to weather.

In a Facebook post, organizers said, "Prairie Lights Holiday Lights Experience will be closed on Thursday & Friday, December 22 & 23 due to extreme weather conditions. Please remember, General Admission tickets are valid every night through New Year’s Eve. We appreciate your patience and look forward to welcoming guests following the closure."

When a commenter asked if it was a joke, they further explained, "With the forecasted sub-zero wind chills, this closure is for the protection of our staff who work outdoors for hours each night, as well as our guests that would be participating in outdoor activities at Holiday Village."

They plan to reopen on Christmas Eve, they say.

An arctic front is expected to bring dangerously cold temperatures and strong winds to Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday. A wind chill watch has been issued for all day Thursday through Friday morning.

"Simply, it will be very cold and potentially dangerous if precautions are not taken," WFAA meteorologists say. "Exposed skin can get frostbite very quickly with the cold on Thursday into Friday."

Prairie Lights is the second local holiday event to announce a weather-related cancellation; Enchant at Fair Park will also stay dark Thursday, December 22.

Prairie Lights takes place at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, where visitors drive through 4 million lights set along two miles of path. Hundreds of displays in shapes of all kinds line and arch over the roads. At the halfway point, guests can exit their vehicle to enjoy photos with Santa, a magical walk-thru forest, and more. The second half of the drive ends with an always popular light tunnel.

It runs nightly, beginning at 6 pm, through New Year's Eve. Admission is $50-$200 per vehicle; an upcoming Days of Savings promotion, valid December 26-31, will allow visitors to save 20 percent using the code SAVE20. More information and tickets here.

For more spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas-Fort Worth,go here.

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Monumental new sculptures by  renowned 9/11 artist take root at Texas Botanic Garden

blooming work

Here is something new for Texas travelers who enjoy exploring art in nature. An intriguing new collection of sculptures called "Intertwined: Exploring Nature's Networks," by renowned artist Steve Tobin, opened at the Houston Botanic Garden on January 28.

Tobin's collection of pieces soar and wind and unfold against the backdrop of the gardens paths and trees, connecting the bronze, glass, ceramic, and steel sculptures to the landscape.

The connection is important for Tobin, an artist who may be most well known for his Trinity Root, a memorial that was cast from the roots of the tree that protected one of New York City's cathedrals during the 9/11 attacks. As a child, he was known as "Nature Boy," which he says was as apt then as now.

"I would find twigs or mushrooms, and they would mean something to me," he says. "I'm the guy with my nose in the sand and my butt in the air, looking deeper than most people. I think I see more. I think it's part of my DNA."

Originally from Pennsylvania, Tobin graduated from Tulane University in 1979 with a degree in math. He was always drawn to art, however, and his massive creations - from eggs in birds' nests to roots and limbs woven together to branches stretching to sky - evoke the powerful pull he feels to the natural world and a desire to help others see its beauty. The Christian Science Monitor described his works as "monuments to the meeting of science an art."

"Science is more creative that art," he explains. "Scientists have to describe the universe from nothing, and the explanation has to work. Artists can make up whole worlds. Scientists don't get credit for their vast creativity."

By focusing his works on the natural world, Tobin looks to showcase how the two subjects work in harmony, and how people can interact with them. In Eagle Nest, a huge, polished steel egg sits perched in nest.

Polished to a high gloss, the egg becomes a mirror. "You look at the egg and you see yourself," Tobin says. "It shows that you are in the egg."

For Tobin, there is magic in helping people, whether they are art novices or aficionados, find a connection with his art.

"I've done my job when someone has an expression of magic," he says. "And once you open that door, even for a second, it can never be fully closed."

He says he is looking forward to Texas audiences seeing his works in the garden, which he feels is a natural place for his sculptures — the biggest of which is 30 feet high and took 2,000 hours of welding to complete.

Showcasing his sculptures there cements the harmony with nature he feel and thinks is something others should strive to see. Tobin even has a connection to Houston: one of his great friends, a woman he met at Tulane, lives there.

Two other pieces also have roots there. Tobin says Steel Roots will resonate particularly well in Texas. "It's made from repurposed oil pipe, a lot of it from Texas," he says. "So now, it's back home in a different context."

And when Botanic Garden guest encounter the Twisties, they'll likely recall hearing the terms from gymnast Simone Biles, who famously used the word to describe the disconnect she felt between her mind and her body. Tobin's sculptures are between eight and 17 feet high and evoke Asian calligraphy. He describes them as "distorted gymnastics."

Mostly, though, Tobin wants visitors to get a window into how he imagines the world.

"I try to translate into sculpture what I see so people can see what I see."

-----

"Intertwined: Exploring Nature's Networks" runs Saturday, January 28 through August 13 at Houston Botanic Garden, 1 Botanic Garden Ln. Regular garden admission is $15. For tickets and more information, visit Houston Botanic Garden online.

Photo courtesy of Houston Botanic Garden

Tobin's 'Romeo & Juliet' sprouts from the grounds.

Bolstered by 'Yellowstone,' Fort Worth ranks No. 25 on new list of best cities for filmmakers

That's showbiz

Taylor Sheridan continues his magic touch for Fort Worth: For the second year in a row, the city has landed a top-25 spot among the best big cities to live and work as a moviemaker.

Fort Worth repeats at No. 25 on MovieMaker Magazine's 2023 list. It is joined by four other Texas cities in the top 25: Austin (No. 12), Dallas (No. 20), Houston (No. 21), and San Antonio (No. 22).

MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits whenever possible — with the notable exclusions of Los Angeles and New York:

"We don’t believe people should have to be rich or well-connected to make movies," writes MovieMaker editor Tim Molloy. "And we know plenty of people who moved to L.A. or New York with filmmaking dreams and ended up working industry-barely-adjacent jobs just to pay the bills. We think the best place to live is one you can afford — a place where you can be happy, inspired, and financially free to pursue your art."

These criteria are themes throughout the ranking: Atlanta, Georgia, took the top spot overall, followed by Vancouver, British Columbia (No. 2), and New Orleans, Louisiana (No. 3). The five Texas cities on the list all boast more affordability than Los Angeles or New York, and each one features a deeply supportive film community and various local incentives.

Fort Worth made the list for the just second year, thanks in large part to the shooting of series in the Yellowstone franchise.

"Fort Worth is the proud home of Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming Paramount+ limited series about Bass Reeves, the once-enslaved man who became a famed federal marshal," Molloy writes. "Sheridan’s Yellowstone prequel 1883 also shoots in Fort Worth, and is based in nearby Weatherford, where Sheridan owns a ranch. Fort Worth offers clear skies, easy permitting, and a vibrant film culture that includes the Lone Star Film Festival.

"The 13th-biggest city in the country also has experienced crews and a cost of living almost exactly in line with the U.S. average. While there’s no official local incentive program, the city’s very accommodating film officials work hard to offer soft incentives like deals on hotels."

Neighboring Dallas came in at No. 20, selected for its location and architecture, among other factors.

"Why choose Dallas? The city offers an online document that addresses just that question, and points to factors including its equal access to both coasts, great weather (except for some cold nights) and striking visuals, including modern and futuristic buildings that form a strikingly camera-worthy nighttime skyline," Molloy writes.

Dallas' diversity, plethora of permitting options, and cost of living also bolster its ranking.

"It’s one of the most diverse cities in the country, with a deep, experienced crew base, easily obtainable permits, and hotel deals to be had — if you’re shooting in Dallas and staying in the city’s hotels for at least 15 nights, you could qualify for up to 10 percent back on rooms," Molloy writes. "It’s a great city to work on other people’s projects so you can save enough money to create your own, and is almost exactly in line with the U.S. average cost of living. Just drive or walk its streets and it’s impossible not to notice the new construction and businesses popping up all over town, and it’s full of rising filmmakers who pitch in to do each other favors and bring one another’s projects to life."

He adds that the Dallas International Film Festival does an admirable job of showcasing must-see films, such as last year’s documentary Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom.

Elsewhere in Texas

"Texas is booming, as you’re about to see from the five Lone Star State cities on this list — all of which would be higher in our rankings if Texas offered more generous tax incentives," Molloy writes. "Still, the state is working hard to attract film and TV projects, and the signs of growth are obvious all over the state."

Austin unsurprisingly took the highest Texas spot at No. 12, scoring points beyond the obvious benefits of SXSW. MovieMaker praised smaller fests like the Austin Film Festival, as well as the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, and Austin's impressive list of filmmaker residents (Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Terrence Malick — to name a few).

Houston placed right behind Dallas at No. 21, with MovieMaker touting its diversity and low cost of living.

San Antonio came in fourth among Texas cities at No. 22, selected for its plethora of permitting options, reinstatement of local film incentives, and growing educational opportunities such as the University of Texas at San Antonio’s new Bachelor of Fine Arts Film & Media Studies program.

New Fort Worth ghost tour showcases the spookier side of the Stockyards

Ghosts of Cowtown

A national travel company is showing off the scary side of the Fort Worth Stockyards with the launch of a brand new ghost tour.

US Ghost Adventures, an Orlando-based company that hosts ghost tours in some of the most haunted cities in the country, has just added Fort Worth to its list of tour locations. The one-hour tour is held nightly at 8 pm and includes eight stops within a one-mile walking distance.

Some of the haunted highlights from the tour include Miss Molly’s Hotel (109 W. Exchange Ave.), a former brothel where unexplained activity – think lights turning on and off, heavy breathing, and footsteps heard on the stairs – have long been documented.

The Stockyards Hotel (109 E. Exchange Ave.), built in 1904, is said to be home to the apparition of its developer, Colonel T.M. Thannisch, as well as rodeo cowboy C.D. “Junior” Colwell, who is said to have committed suicide to avoid jailtime for swindling people.

Tour participants will also visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2515 Rodeo Plaza), where it’s said the six-foot, four-inch ghost of famed actor John Wayne has been seen admiring the cowboy memorabilia on display – even with a museum dedicated solely to him located just steps way at John Wayne: An American Experience.

While other ghost tours exist in Fort Worth, US Ghost Adventures owner Lance Zaal says his tour specializes in storytelling.

“US Ghost Adventures offers EMF detectors and focuses on telling the history behind the hauntings,” says Zaal.

When paranormal activity takes places, theories suggest electromagnetic disturbances can be seen with electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors. Lights on the detector indicate the strength of the disturbances, with a green light meaning little to no activity, yellow meaning moderate activity, and red meaning high activity.

Fort Worth was one of 12 new cities recently added to the US Ghost Adventures roster, as well as Houston and El Paso. The company operates tours in more than 50 cities across the country, and full list of new cities include:

The tour is $25 per person and there’s a two-person minimum. There's also an option to add a 30-minute bonus tour of four additional stops for just $6 per person.

Reservations should be made in advance online, and participants should meet at the Livestock Exchange Building at 131 E. Exchange Ave.