Deep Ellum Street Closures Annoy Some Businesses

Main and Elm Street between Hall and Good Latimer expected to close at 10 p.m.

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Barriers will be up again Friday and Saturday nights, closing some streets in Deep Ellum. 

It’s a Dallas police response to recent violence and to traffic and visitors from the State Fair of Texas.

But some businesspeople complain that street closures are very bad for business as they try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bucky Moonshines restaurant and bar is in a stretch of Elm Street that was closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night last weekend.

“We won't survive and I bet there'll be 10 businesses closed in six months if they kept it this way,” Bucky Moonshines owner Ivan Pugh said.

He closed the business an additional day in the past week to save money after the losses from last weekend. Pugh said more than a dozen of his employees quit with so few customers.

“They said we just can’t make any money. And they’re gone. They’re going to go to a neighborhood that the police aren’t closing the neighborhood down,” Pugh said.

The Elm Street restaurant is very close to the spot on Malcolm X Boulevard where six people were shot September 19. Two of the victims died. It came after other violent crimes in the area.

On September 20, Chief Eddie Garcia said Dallas Police would not tolerate the violence.

“We're going to respond appropriately and make sure we have a presence in that area and make sure patrons feel safe,” Garcia said.

At an event where Dallas was named a 'Texas Music Friendly Community' this week, Mayor Eric Johnson said he was alarmed by the recent crime in Deep Ellum.

“I support our police chief doing what he needs to do to restore order to that area and make it safe for everyone who is there,” Johnson said.

City Council Member Jesse Moreno represents Deep Ellum. Moreno said he has been working on the issues with a task force of businesses, residents and city officials.

“We want to be sure the bar owners can promote their business and let the customers know that they’re going to be safe when they come to Deep Ellum,” Moreno said. “Even though the streets might be closed, Deep Ellum is a welcoming place. We just won’t tolerate violence.”

Moreno said a goal of closing streets is to give the neighborhood more of a pedestrian safe feel such as Austin’s 6th Street. 

Unlike some cities where drinking is allowed on closed streets, Dallas Police were also enforcing open container laws last weekend for people walking around.

The neighborhood counts on visitors with live music seven nights a week, according to Deep Ellum Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Keller Hudiberg.

“Deep Ellum is a very dynamic district so not only our traffic plan and our mobility plan but our safety plan has to be dynamic as well,” she said. “This week we had a very productive meeting. We meet monthly and we spoke with law enforcement about the past weekend’s closures and this weekend you’re going to see something a little bit different.”

Instead of closing Main and Elm at 7 p.m., the streets will close at 10 p.m., after the early evening restaurant business is over.

“If it’s 10 o’clock, we might salvage it,” Pugh said.

However, he also counts on parking lot business for the late night crowd and closing Elm Street will eliminate later access to his lot.

Pugh said the solution to Deep Ellum violence should not be eliminating visitors for businesses that are struggling already.

A spokesman said Dallas Police plan to keep closing some streets in Deep Ellum on weekends, at least through the State Fair of Texas, and then evaluate next steps after that.

Councilman Moreno said the city will work with business owners to be sure they are not caught off guard by security changes in the future.

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