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

CRE Opinion: Education Resources in Our Center City

In making Downtown Dallas a complete neighborhood, education options of all levels have become a top priority for DDI.

By: Kourtny Garrett

Published in D CEO


I am a parent of twin 5-year-olds who will be in kindergarten next year. We live downtown. Where can I send my kids to school?

That was the opening question, and not a hypothetical one, that I posed last month at our Downtown Dallas, Inc. board meeting to a panel including Dallas ISD District 8 Trustee Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD District 2 Trustee Dustin Marshall, and Uplift Education Chief Administration Officer Ann Stevenson. It is also a question I get more and more often, not only from my downtown neighbors, but also from corporate decision-makers who are chasing the talent pool who craves urban living.

At the beginning of this year, Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) realigned our priorities to take a more integrated approach to building our center city. One that has risen to the top is “Fostering the Growth of Complete Neighborhoods.” This includes thoughtful urban planning efforts that grow and diversify housing choice downtown, including product type and price point, while at the same time complementing it with essential services like grocery stores and dry cleaners, parks and cultural assets, and accessible, multi-modal, and efficient transportation. And yes, schools.  It’s not just about a race to build the most units or lease the greatest amount of space. What will sustain our urban core in the long run is filling in the gaps between towers to create complete places.

And education is a gap. As downtown’s pioneering population has grown and matured in recent years, demand has risen for more education options at all levels. We are “aging”—establishing careers and having kids—and we want to stay downtown. From 2000-2010 the number of 25-34-year-olds in the central business district (CBD) grew by 185.6 percent. I won’t make assumptions about anyone else’s life, but I know what I was doing at age 34, and those near-kindergarteners are the starting point for this piece. Furthermore, talent retention and recruitment have never been more important due to the increase of companies staying, growing, and moving to our urban core. So, our education platform at DDI is a simple brick and mortar strategy: We need more great schools in downtown.

From 2000-2010, the number of children ages 0-4 grew by 55.6 percent in the CBD. The projection for the next decade, from 2010-2020, predicts a similar trajectory at 45.7 percent growth. Then it slows to 27.9 percent from ages 5-14. The correlation with entering kindergarten is probably not accidental. Within the 2.5-mile radius of the Downtown Dallas 360 Plan geography, from 2000-2010, all age brackets between 0-19 declined by double-digits, but the story is a bit brighter from 2015-2020, as projections show modest growth of 2.7 percent. That said, we know that number can, and should, be higher.

Despite the undeniable need for more schools, it’s important to note the resources that are available today. We have options, great options. There are more than 30 schools of all levels within about two miles of downtown. So, when I asked the opening question to our panel about what I’m to do with my kids right now, there were answers.

Ms. Stevenson spoke about the Uplift Preparatory System, with 17 schools throughout Dallas and a mission to provide quality education in communities that are underserved with a focus on college preparation. In the downtown area, Uplift’s International Baccalaureate-authorized Luna Campus is split between the West End (K-5) and Deep Ellum (6-12), and will add pre-kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year. Another charter school option, Pegasus School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, provides K-12 education through a highly experiential curriculum that utilizes all of downtown as its campus.

Trustee Solis was instrumental in the decision to locate CityLab High School in downtown, which will open this fall with its first class of 100 freshmen students. CityLab’s mission, fit perfectly for an urban campus, “is to establish an open enrollment inner-city high school where students use the city itself as a classroom to engage with the diverse social fabric and neighborhoods of the city.”

CityLab is just one creative way Dallas ISD is rethinking its approach to education downtown. Trustee Marshall’s district includes Ben Milam Elementary, located at McKinney Avenue and Fitzhugh Avenue, which, with the help of many neighborhood advocates, is now the school serving most of Uptown and downtown Dallas, giving our downtown families new options. Milam also offers pre-kindergarten, and is in the Alex W. Spence Middle School and North Dallas High School feeder pattern, with traditional as well as Talented and Gifted curriculum options at Spence Middle School. In addition, the incorporation of Public School Choice has allowed families to have better access to schools that are more streamlined to particular interests, including STEAM, Leadership, and Personalized Learning curricula. Schools of choice have also opened up geographic constraints, making schools like Solar Prep Girls STEAM Academy just north of downtown an option for many families.

In addition to CityLab, El Centro College, and Dallas ISD have a partnership in Lassiter Early College High School that allows students to graduate with high school diplomas and 60 or more college credits, in some cases qualifying for an associate’s degree. And, of course, downtown is home to the award-winning Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

First Baptist Academy also serves as a pre-k-12 option for private school. Preschool and early childhood development options are available at many downtown and nearby faith-based institutions, adding to a handful of traditional daycare options. Additionally, the T. Boone Pickens YMCA is growing its programming for children.

Downtown’s higher education institutions are robust and growing as well. Within downtown and a 2.5-mile radius more than 18,000 students are enrolled. The El Centro College campus celebrating 50 years, includes a rich core curriculum in addition to its specialty programs such as El Centro’s Center for Allied Health, Center for Design, and Food and Hospitality Services Institute. El Centro is also proud to be an HSI, a Hispanic Serving Institution. Downtown is also home to UNT System and UNT Dallas College of Law, as well as the Universities Center at Dallas and its partner institutions, including UNT, UNT Dallas, Texas A&M Commerce, and University of Texas Arlington. In the Cedars, the Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development provides workforce and business development training. DDI is also working with nearby campuses like Paul Quinn College to continue to grow the talent pool and opportunities in the center of our city.

I’ve chosen to live downtown with my family for a number of reasons. I live in a place where we spend our time enjoying life with front door access to art, recreation, food, events, and spontaneous run-ins. My children are exposed to a richness of culture, diversity, innovation, and history, supported by a community striving for the same. And now, as we weigh our options for education, the long-term viability of staying here feels pretty good.