Changes could soon be coming to a landmark site in Downtown Dallas.
The owner of El Fenix is selling the McKinney Avenue property where the iconic restaurant sits. The property is also home to Dallas landmark Meso Maya and La Ventana.
Firebird Restaurant Group owns both the three restaurants and the four-acre property with one of the few parking lots left downtown. The owner says the plan is to keep the restaurants open in their current location, even under a new owner.
As the building boom in Downtown Dallas continues, El Fenix, Meso Maya and La Ventana stand out for standing low.
“It's such an amazing place. My wife really loves this place,” said customer Billy Island. “This is like a tradition.”
But a change will likely soon be coming to the Dallas tradition.
Mike Karns, founder and CEO of Firebird Restaurant Group, says the company is marketing the property.
"Our plan is to keep all three restaurants open and operating in their current location, as well as potentially add new restaurants to a future development,” he said in a statement.
Karns says that development will likely include office buildings, apartments and a hotel.
Some customers are wary of change.
“We’ve got so many high rises around here. We don't need another one,” one customer said.
“This is a historical landmark,” said customer Bruce Elliott. “This establishment was the first Mexican American Tex-Mex restaurant in Dallas.”
The original El Fenix opened down the street from the current location 100 years ago. It moved to McKinney Avenue in the 1960s to make way for the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
David Preziosi with Preservation Dallas points out that regardless of what happens with development around El Fenix, the neighboring Meso Maya building is protected as a Dallas landmark.
“Architecturally, Meso Maya is very interesting with Spanish eclectic architecture,” he explained. “There was a large Hispanic population in that area of the city, which is gone now because of the high rises.”
Now, there will likely soon be more high rises.
“Smaller low scale buildings don't make sense economically for developers,” Preziosi said.
Karns said in his statement that the location right next to the Perot Museum and Klyde Warren Park is prime for development. He says it is an exciting opportunity for Dallas.