Olivia Dish

El Fenix: Hot or Not?

In Dallas, Local Flavor, Restaurant on July 30, 2009 at 6:27 pm
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El Fenix: the madreship

Here’s what I learned from working with a group in downtown Dallas.  Someone is going to insist, “We’re going to El Fenix or I quit.”  Yes, even in this economy.

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A lifesize cutout of the owner

So rather than lose a team member mid-project, we set aside our box lunches, took the elevator 35 floors down, piled into cars, and drove the 8 blocks to a Dallas (non-mental but delightfully wacky inside) institution.

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Festive decor at El Fenix

El Fenix is billed as the home of Tex Mex.  In 1918, when the restaurant opened, maybe visitors were surprised by the cuisine.  Now, it’s pretty much what you can find anywhere–tasty but nothing eye-popping.  Still, some people can’t leave well enough alone.

At the same time that I was having my first El Fenix lunch, “branding” experts (and sorry to disappoint, but I don’t mean cattle branding) were contemplating the future of El Fenix.

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El Fenix?

The Dallas Morning News reported on these developing plans a week earlier.  The madreship and its many franchise locations have been purchased recently by a Texas developer who wants to restore El Fenix, not remake it.

The branding guy Mr. Developer has hired  says he’s committed to authenticity.  But also, according to the article, Mr. Branding Guy believes that  “branding is all about selling your soul in an honest way.”

Huh?

Good luck El Fenix.  I thoroughly enjoyed lunch with my rowdy colleagues surrounded by your festive decor.  Your refried beans were delicious, your tortillas cripsy, your salsa average but fine by me.  I don’t know if that was my last chance to dine at the old El Fenix….or if El Fenix is about to emerge from the ashes of whatever Satanic chiminea allows you to sell your soul in an honest way.

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