Sundance Square

Sundance Square's Popular Bird Café Closing For Good Due to COVID-19 Shutdown

Owner, operating partner says pandemic economy was too much to overcome

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Bird Café, the popular dining spot adjacent to Bass Hall in Sundance Square, will close its doors for good Friday, May 22.

Owner Shannon Wynne confirmed the news to NBC 5 Thursday, saying the economic struggle caused by the pandemic was too much for the cafe to overcome.

“With the shutdown caused by COVID-19, we found it impossible to operate economically and have elected to close permanently," Wynne said, before inviting people into the restaurant or onto the patio one last time before shutting down the kitchen one last time.

“We have worked hard to keep the Bird evolving this past seven years, but this pandemic is more than a chef-driven concept like ours could handle. We will miss the building a lot and thank Johnny Campbell, Bill Boecker and Ed Bass for giving us a shot."

Wynne, who has occupied the Land and Title Building at E. 4th and Commerce for 25 years with a number of concepts, said he was approached by a representative of the Bass family seven years ago to create a fine-dining concept for the corner.

Bird Café
Interior of Bird Café in Fort Worth showing the installation of the Birds of Texas portfolio by twins Stuart and Scott Gentling, whom were inspired by famed artist John James Audubon. Owner Shannon Wynne designed the tile work which adorns the walls and floors to maintain the period influences.

"Formerly housing our Flying Saucer Draught Emporium concept, the space would be available as The Saucer moved to the old 8.0 Bar space on East Third," Wynne said in a statement. "Sundance was about to build the Plaza on the Square and the Land Title Building would be preserved to house a new exciting project."

Wynne said the resulting floor plan, "was a challenge to design, but is one of my favorites."

"Representative of the turn of the century, I wanted to merge the histories of the cattle and oil dynasties that would soon burgeon in Fort Worth. I would design it to be representative of a place people might have gone to get a good meal back then, heavily male, but with female refinement," Wynne said.

When asked whether he'll return to the spot he's occupied for years, Wynne said it's difficult to know.

“It’s so hard to see into the future. It’s so hard to predict how we’re all going to evolve as both patrons and operators, how the finances will work, how a lease is written," said Wynne.

As for his other restaurants, he said business has been good. For now, he's hopeful to keep the doors open though he'll have to re-evaluate after PPP funding runs out come June.

“We’re not sure what’s going to happen in the restaurant world after then. We’re hoping that we don’t see a spike in the COVID-19 virus. But you know, we just don’t know. We’re flying blind," said Wynne.

Bird Cafe's current hours of operation are Tuesday - Friday from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., while inventory lasts.

bird cafe sign
Mike Grimm, NBC 5 News
Sign on display at Fort Worth's Bird Café during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic
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