A landmark restaurant in Fort Worth appears ready to leave its downtown location over issues with its landlord.
"We've been here about 20 years but we've got to look forward, and we've got to find the next great location for Reata for the next 20 years going forward," said Mike Micallef, the president of Reata.
Reata Restaurant opened its doors on Houston Street in May 2002. Its current lease expires in a little more than two years. The restaurant wants a renewal but said it still doesn't have one from Sundance Square management.
So, the Micallef family, which owns the restaurant, has decided it's time to move on to someplace new.
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"Our lease is coming up on June 2024. So, we've got a little bit more than two years. Here at Reata, we serve about a quarter of a million customers every year. So for us to go and find a new location, it's not going to be a simple thing. We might have to build a new location. So, because of that, we need a little time, but we need to find the next great location for Reata moving forward," Micallef said.
One of the big issues, according to the restaurant, is the higher price customers now pay for valet parking.
"We really care about the total customer's experience. Part of that experience is getting to your restaurant. Obviously, the valet and parking situation has changed from what it was for the first 18 years. And we hear comments back from our customers that they don't like those changes," Micallef said.
In a statement to NBC 5, a spokesperson for the Sundance Square management team said landlord-tenant issues are not publicly discussed.
As for the parking situation, the spokesperson said there is free weeknight and weekend self-parking; two-and-half hours of free customer parking on weekdays, and a 25-block campuswide pay-for-use valet parking.
"All restaurants in Sundance Square have the option to pay for part (or all) of their customer’s valet parking … and Reata does not participate in this program," wrote Sundance Square spokesman Bryan Eppstein.
"There was a valet parking system where it was free to the guests. The restaurant paid initially $3 a car, then $4 a car. Now, the new management wanted to charge $7 every 30 minutes, $21 max, plus fees. And that's something that we as Reata could not support. We can't support that. You have to realize our lunch price point is only $20. Our dinner price point is right around $50. If you're having to pay that much for a person to park, you're no longer in business," Micallef said.
Reata is now is ready to take its business elsewhere. While the restaurant would prefer not to leave downtown, finding two acres of undeveloped land it would need to build from the ground up or a building between 12,000 to 20,000 square feet and parking for 200 poses its own challenges.
"We've got to figure out the next best thing for us but like I said, it's going to take us a long time to find a new location and build out that location or build a whole building. And as you know because of the pandemic, the whole supply chain is messed up, so everything takes longer than it used to. We need to move forward to find the next great location for Reata," Micallef said.
"It's difficult, but, you know what? Our first restaurant isn't in Fort Worth. It's in Alpine, Texas. Our first restaurant in Fort Worth wasn't even here. It was at the top of the Bank One Tower building. We made a successful transition from there to here. So we're just looking for the next chapter."
And the restaurant is asking the public to help it find that new spot. Information about that is posted online. The goal is to identify that next spot by early 2023.