Downtown Dallas, Inc. Welcomes New Hire Matt Thomas

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Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) warmly welcomes Matt Thomas to its team as Communications Director.  In this position, Matt will oversee the organization’s content creation, communications, media relations programs, and community relationships.

Matt Thomas has worked as a broadcast journalist in Dallas/Fort Worth for more than a decade.  His career started right out of high school with internships at two radio stations.  He then moved to New York City, where he attended college and spent time interning at some of the biggest radio stations and network news operations in the country.  Matt returned to North Texas, where he continued his broadcast career as an airborne traffic reporter and news anchor at local radio stations.  In 2005, he accepted a position as a full-time street reporter and anchor at the NewsRadio station in Houston.  There, he covered several high-profile stories, including all of the Enron fraud and conspiracy trial, the Andrea Yates murder retrial, and Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.  Matt spent weeks covering the aftermath of Katrina by providing live reports to listeners from New Orleans.

He returned to North Texas in late 2006 to accept a position at KRLD radio and the Texas State Network.  Matt’s street reporting, anchoring, and leadership skills in his more than a decade at the station resulted in numerous Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism.  Most recently, he was named “Best Reporter” by the Texas AP Broadcasters and he received the prestigious Charles E. Green award by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for his on-scene coverage of the deadly attack on police officers in Dallas in July 2016.

Matt is now transitioning to his new role as Communications Director for DDI. “I can’t think of a better way to continue to share stories that have an impact than joining the DDI team and using new media platforms to highlight the great things that are happening in Downtown Dallas and the surrounding districts,” Matt said.

Matt produced and hosted more than 200 original shows in conjunction with DDI and former CEO and current Vice Chairman John Crawford during a critical period of transition for the city’s core.  Each Sunday on KRLD, Pulse of the City highlighted an area of Downtown Dallas experiencing new development and activity.  “Downtown Dallas and the neighboring districts have come such a long way in my time here, and it is absolutely thrilling to be here to help DDI and this tremendous staff share all the great things that are happening now and are yet to come,” Thomas said.

Matt grew up in the Denton area, and has always had a great love for the buildings that make up what USA Today has named the “Best International Skyline.”  In addition to storytelling and Downtown, Matt is passionate about golf, the Texas Rangers, and animal rescue operations in North Texas.  For the past several years, he has helped emcee the annual “Basset Shuffle” event benefitting North Texas Basset Hound Rescue.  In addition to his three rescue dogs, Matt has a wife and toddler who are the joys of his life.

Get to Know: City Tavern

Dallas is known for its flashy atmosphere, glamorous population, and rowdy bar scene. While everything is bigger and better in the Big D, we also like to crack a cold one at the original neighborhood hangout known as City Tavern.


While Dallasites flock to glitzy nightclubs and lush lounges for ear-piercing electro music and overpriced vodka sodas, City Tavern is the foundation, free of frills, where locals gather for a good time.


Dallas entrepreneur Josh Florence took over Downtown Dallas’ City Tavern in 2006 and has watched his communal pub grow over the past 11 years.

Florence explained that City Tavern is an all encompassing space, which is of utmost importance to him.

“I genuinely and sincerely love people and love bringing people together,” said Florence. “This is the most welcoming, open-arms bar I’ve ever seen or been a part of. Gay, straight, ethnicity, it doesn’t matter… race, color, creed, political preference, or college football team doesn’t matter. As long as you love the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers, I think we’ll be good.”


Florence landed his first job in the hospitality business at Hula Hut in Austin and explained he was hooked on the business ever since.

“I like being in a business where the overall goal is to make people feel good,” said Florence. “Whether that be through food, or through music, or through service, I like that people choose to come where I work when they get off of work.

While City Tavern is beloved by the Dallas community, the bartenders and staff add to the welcoming aesthetic.

When questioning if the Tavern should open on Christmas and Thanksgiving, his staff volunteered to work holidays and it hit a special place in Florence’s heart. He explained that City Tavern is the place where Dallasites gather to celebrate with their family, whether they’re blood-related or not.

“This is where they meet up and it’s a special deal,” said Florence.

Not only does City Tavern have a unique charm that attracts locals and visitors, the neighborhood hot spot serves as one of the prime places to enjoy live music. Before Dallas earned a marker on the music map, City Tavern was a magnet for guests who wanted to come rock out.

“The music scene speaks to me,” said Florence.


Florence, who appeared on the MTV reality show Road Rules respects and takes pride in local talent. After buying City Tavern and booking weekly live shows featuring local musicians, Florence took ownership in Club Dada in Deep Ellum, Off the Record, Independent Bar & Kitchen, the Homegrown Music & Arts Festival, and the Old 97’s County Fair.

“All are very different but the common thread is the music, the live music” he said.

Club Dada features touring Indie shows, Off the Record sells vinyl records, Independent Bar & Kitchen showcases local jazz artists, and City Tavern gives status to the rock n’ roll bands in the city.

Florence’s favorite memory at City Tavern burns vividly in his memory. About five years ago, the Tavern was packed, rocking out to King Tuff and Natural Child, when the roof caught fire during the show. After over an hour of putting the flames to rest, the audience stayed enjoying their beers on Main Street, and doubled in size after the fire truck was long gone.

In a world where bars come and go, the success of the quaint bar known as City Tavern could rely on a number of things… Is it the positivity and energy owner Josh Florence brings to the table? Is it the staff that values each other as family? Or is it the original D-Town vibes the Tavern holds that draws eclectic crowds in a warm atmosphere? There’s no right answer, but we know where we’ll be at happy hour!

For a chance to win a $100 gift card to City Tavern, click here: City Tavern’s Downtown Giveaway and make sure you follow us (@downtown_dallas) and City Tavern (@citytaverndfw) on Instagram! For more information on City Tavern, visit

For more information on all things to eat, see, and do Downtown, visit And for a comprehensive list of Downtown events, visit

City Tavern is located at:

1402 Main St

Dallas, TX 75202

Remembering July 7, 2016

Today and through this weekend we will commemorate the tragic events of July 7, 2016, remembering those who were lost and express gratitude to those who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe.

Here is a list of opportunities to participate:

We continue to hold our fallen and wounded officers and their families in our hearts and are grateful to the Dallas Police Department, Dallas Fire-Rescue, DART Police Department, and El Centro Police for their diligence, courage, and strength.

We also express tremendous thanks to our own field teams, the Downtown Safety Patrol and Clean Team, to whom keeping Downtown safe and clean is always the number one priority.  They are led in an outstanding way by Martin Cramer, Dustin Bullard, and Jordan Jay who are never shy to go “above and beyond.”

Our community will never forget, we will not move on.  But we will move forward, carrying with us the strength and courageous spirit of our fallen officers and inspiration from those who remain dedicated to the quality of life of the citizens of Dallas.

We appreciate all of you and your support of our Downtown community.

Get to Know: Zåtar



Taking roots in the re-energized historic Deep Ellum area, Zåtar draws a fine line between simple and luxurious.


The beautiful eatery features a large, covered outdoor terrace and a chic indoor environment. Rustic decor, glittering chandeliers, and cozy booths add to the lively music and festive ambience of the Lebanese eatery.

Eating in Lebanon is tied to gatherings, and Zåtar is armed with a passion to bring the essence of that vibrant culture to Dallas. The word zåtar is a staple of traditional Lebanese cuisine and culture. It refers to both the Levantine oregano plant and the spice blend where the plant takes center stage. At Dallas’ Zåtar, the warm vibes, positive atmosphere, and exquisite menu bring that Lebanese vibrancy.

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Let’s start with the exquisite brunch. As you walk in, the service is divine as you are seated and greeted by the staff. A basket of warm croissants is placed in the center. The chocolate croissant is to die for as you break it open and warm cocoa oozes out of the flaky crust.

After you enjoy a warm croissant, you discover the twist Zåtar brings to Dallas’ typical boozy brunch. Ladies, try the frosé. It’s frosty, pink, and fun to drink! They also infuse their mimosas with rose water that gives off a fresh, beautiful scent.

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When getting to the main course, you can go with the breakfast tacos or venture to the ‘Mother of all pies.’ The pie features minced meat, a cheese stuffed crust, and is topped with two eggs baked to perfection. It is SO good and shareable. As a side, the fried Brussels sprouts mixed with grapes, walnuts, and balsamic are a must!

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If you’re going for dinner, indulge in Siyadiyeh, a traditional Lebanese dish consisting of roasted mahi-mahi with caramelized rice and onions paired with La Vie-En-Rose (Hendricks gin, Dolin Blanc, rose water spritz). End your dinner with a splurge. The Kenefeh at Zåtar will bring zen to your tastebuds. The Kenefeh is a warm cheesecake with semolina crust, served with orange blossom syrup. Um… Yum!  

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If you are up to trying new things and expanding your palette, Downtown Dallas’ Zåtar is the place to be!

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For a chance to win a $100 gift card to Zåtar, click here: Zåtar’s Downtown Giveaway and make sure you follow us (@downtown_dallas) and Zåtar (@zatardallas) on Instagram! For more information on Zåtar, visit

For more information on all things to eat, see, and do Downtown, visit And for a comprehensive list of Downtown events, visit

Zåtar Dallas is located at:

2825 Commerce St

Dallas, TX 75226

DDI Job Opening: Communications Director

Downtown Dallas, Inc. is seeking a Communications Director to oversee the organization’s content creation, communications, media relations programs and community relationships. The position will be responsible for strategic planning including a communications program of work, as well as detailed execution of all related initiatives.   The position reports directly to the Chief Marketing Officer, and works hand‐in‐hand with the CEO, Marketing Manager, Economic Development & Planning Analyst, Member & Special Projects Manager and leadership team.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to satisfactorily perform each of the essential duties and responsibilities listed below.  The duties and responsibilities include the following, though other duties may be assigned.

  • Digital content creation – produce short videos/podcast interviews with businesses, residents, members, entrepreneurs and organizations for blogs/social media/newsletters to help promote Downtown personalities and businesses. Strategically use content to elevate the perception and awareness of DDI as the go-to resource for all things related to Downtown. Work directly with CMO and Marketing Manager to ensure all content is distributed through appropriate communication channels including website.
  • Media Relations ‐ Maintain positive relationships with all local, regional, national and trade media outlets. Coordinate press tours, generate pitches, draft news releases and media alerts and produce press Identify stories that could get ‘mention’ coverage, as well as bigger events and features that might warrant full-blown packages or write-ups. Help position DDI as the expert resource for Downtown development, investment, data, retail, etc.
  • Community and Business Outreach – work with DDI leadership team to elevate individual profiles and feature expertise to help DDI reach our goal to become THE voice on urban issues in Dallas. Help frame our business-to-business story to include messaging aimed at executives and investors. Play a role in policy and governmental affairs work – help craft statements, positions and analyze issues. Maintain positive relationships with other organizations and like‐minded community partners through coordinated efforts, including communications surrounding the 360 Plan.
  • Social Media ‐ Grow DDI’s social media presence and engagement by creating relevant and interesting content by seeking out stories about the events, residents, members and business entrepreneurs that have led to the revitalization and now thriving status of Downtown and the surrounding districts. Work directly with the Marketing Manager under direction of CMO to program and plan the social media calendar.
  • Spokesperson/presentations – serve as spokesperson on various issues, participate in panel discussions and present to relevant audiences.
  • Special projects ‐ Manage special projects/ “mini‐campaigns” aimed at communicating specific issues to different audiences and DDI stakeholder


Qualifications: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential qualification satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

  • Excellent verbal and written communications, including public speaking skills and ability to communicate within all levels of organizations
  • Working knowledge of social media platforms and best practices and CMS web site/blog management
  • Media savvy, both traditional press and social media with an understanding of news cycles
  • 10+ years technical broadcast and digital production skills
  • Familiarity with (and passion for!) Downtown

Physical Requirements:  The physical requirements and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

  • Moderate stress level
  • Regular and predictable attendance
  • Some bending, crouching, stooping
  • Ability to work nights & weekends, as needed

Please submit resumes to with the title COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR in the subject line. For more about Downtown Dallas, Inc., visit

Get to Know: Prekindle

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Dallas is unique in a number of ways, but what distinguishes the Big D from others is the local character and prosperity that is evident when you walk through Downtown. That character includes the talent that floods the streets of Dallas.  

Three Dallas musicians make showcasing that local talent easier and more affordable.

Pete Swulius and Dave Howard played rock n’ roll around Deep Ellum in the band The Virgin Trebles. After graduating from college, the Virgin Trebles didn’t want economic troubles and decided to pair their computer software programming knowledge with their passion for music. The pair wanted to continue their involvement in the music scene and started a company that makes independent live shows and events simplistic to stage and promote. That company is Prekindle.


After a year in business, Swulius and Howard added J.R. Denson to the Prekindle partnership. Denson was touring with his band the Greater Good and was introduced to Prekindle by his entertainment attorney at Dallas’ City Tavern over some beers.

From there, Prekindle flourished and averages 4,000 events per year. Local event creators love working with Prekindle because their boutique ticketing company builds personal relationships and is a self-serve platform.


“We’re like the Indie-rock Ticketmaster,” said Denson. “We’re the team building personal relationships. Talent in this city is world-class and we feel lucky to be a part of the Dallas community.”

Prekindle was built from the ground-up in Dallas and has grown to a company that any venue or festival can access. But get this… they are a team of SEVEN people.

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“We can handle anything,” said Denson.

Howard explained they offer a unique perspective to the ticketing business because they all have experience with every job in the company. This workload ranges from scanning tickets at the door to the coding of the website. Each member at Prekindle contributes to the software and writes the actual lines of code that makes up the Prekindle website.

At the actual events, the partners said they hire an army of kids and part-timers who are involved a few times per month to help out.


By offering prices that directly benefit the client, people can log on to their website and create events that flourish and achieve a fan base. Prekindle builds the online tools and services to help further that goal. The company has a weekly newsletter subscriber base of 110,000 in DFW alone that continues to grow. 

The company took off seven years ago and since then has become a competitor for companies like Ticketfly and Eventbrite.

The partners all agreed that they have a certain sense of pride getting to be behind the scenes at so many cool events.

“Getting to see our name [Prekindle] be a part of so many things and getting that recognition is the biggest kick I get out of it,” said Denson. “Seeing someone holding a pass with our logo and knowing how much work went into getting that ticket into their hands is the best feeling.”

Prekindle works with numerous event creators across the nation. They’ve worked with the Kessler Theater, Majestic Theatre, Dallas Morning News, The Rustic and the Dallas International Film Festival.   

In addition to large-scale events, the company also gives back by offering their services to charities and nonprofits.

Be sure to check out Prekindle’s line-up of events this summer. The Oak Cliff Film Fest, the ATX Television Festival, Untapped, and Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Brew-BQ are all awesome upcoming events you can attend this summer!

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For a chance to win a 2 tickets to any event of your choice, click here: PreKindle Giveaway and make sure you follow us (@downtown_dallas) and PreKindle (@prekindletickets) on Instagram!

For more information on PreKindle, visit

For more information on all things to eat, see, and do Downtown, visit And for a comprehensive list of Downtown events, visit