By Bev Garvin, Foodable Contributor
Dallas native and restaurateur, Shannon Wynne, is no stranger to the restaurant and bar scene. His father, a well-known real estate developer, Angus Wynne Jr., who is also from Dallas and is best known for founding the Six Flags entertainment park empire, taught him a thing or two about the entertainment business.
Wynne got his start in 1980 when the bar he and his friends hung out at, the legendary Stonleigh P, burned to the ground and he opened 8.0 Bar in Dallas. Several others followed, Tango Nightclub and The Rio Room, among others. But for a man who has never opened a cash register, much less worked in a bar or restaurant, Wynne’s whimsical-modern take on concepts and design development has cultivated a bumper-crop of successful concepts for more than twenty five years.
Wynne’s empire has seen its ups and downs over the years, but today includes an impressive portfolio of sixteen locations of the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a beer-lover’s paradise, located throughout the southeast, seven locations of Flying Fish and Lark on the Park, an upscale venue near downtown Dallas at Klyde Warren Park. Wynne also owns Meddlesome Moth, another beer and food-centric concept in the Dallas Design District.
In 2014, Wynne closed the 8.0 Bar in Sundance Square in Ft. Worth and opened a Flying Saucer in its space. He then built Bird Café across the street, which has a similar menu to the Moth, but without the emphasis on beer. The Ft. Worth Rodeo Goat burger joint followed and has been so well received that he opened a second location last month in the Dallas Design District, just around the corner from Meddlesome Moth.
Would a Burger by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Like his other concepts, Rodeo Goat is full of personality and that special Wynning charm that resonates so well with people. When asked why do another burger place in Dallas? Wynne’s answer was simple, “Because we believed we could do a better burger.”
The Dallas Rodeo Goat has eighteen hamburgers on the menu, with names as fun and varied as the ingredients. The “Sugar Burger” has candied bacon, grilled peaches, caramelized onions, arugula and jalapeno jam. The “Chaca Oaxaca” [pronounced: Chalk-ah Wa-ha-kah] has a beef and chorizo patty, topped with a fried egg, pico de gallo, avocado, queso fresco and Tabasco mayo. The fries come “hand punched,” the cheese fries come with or without “Surprise” (you’ll have to ask). There’s a “Steaming Pile” of tater tots topped with goat cheese, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, bacon bits, chives and lightly drizzled with truffle oil. And for dessert, the “Goat Balls,” fried goat cheese beignets with blackberry compote, dusted in powdered sugar do not disappoint.
The menu is loaded with plenty of local folklore, personality and quirk - a key ingredient to the success of Wynne’s concepts. The interactive Rodeo Goat menu features a “Battle of the Burgers” where two featured burgers go head-to-head to try to butt the other out of the ring. Each burger ordered counts as a vote and the most ordered burger earns a place on the permanent menu, then a new battle begins. “This keeps our menu fresh and ensures we will continue to give our guests what they want,” said Wynne about the Burger Battle.
Rodeo Goat grinds its meats fresh onsite daily and sources them from premium sources. Said Wynne, “All of our meats will eventually be all grass-fed. Right now they’re mostly grass-fed with some organic corn, because we haven’t yet found a true grass-fed only source that can meet our supply needs.” The salads are hearty and wholesome, made with organic vegetables and they make everything in-house from scratch, except the buns.
Wynne says he’s thinking about expanding Rodeo Goat to other locations, “My partners and I have received a few inquiries from interested parties and we’ll consider expanding to other free-standing locations where it makes sense.”
One Flew Over the Mudhen’s Nest
But Wynne has no plans of slowing down, as construction starts this week on another new concept in the new Dallas Farmers Market development. Mudhen, named after the American Coot, a migratory water-foul bird that primarily eats vegetation and vertebrates.
Said Wynne, “Mudhen will be a healthy concept, featuring seasonal dishes with twenty to thirty vegetables. It will have an earthy, vegetable-centric, Paleo-geared menu with low-sugar and low-carb. It won’t be gluten-free because we will have some bread. It’s not farm-to-table and it won’t be vegan. Some vegetables will be flavored with pork or chicken broth, but we’ll say if something is clean of animal products or not.” While vegetables will be a strong focus, Mudhen will feature meats as well. “All of our ingredients will be organic and sourced from the Dallas Farmers Market when possible. Local meats, chicken and pork will be also be used. If it’s good and available we need it, otherwise we’ll expand to other sources to cover our needs.”
Like many of Wynne’s concepts, Mudhen will be a casual sit-down atmosphere. Meats will be cooked under 350 degrees (unless it’s a hamburger), which is important for health reasons. “Most people who focus on eating healthy don’t pay attention to cooking temperatures and it’s something they really need to pay attention to due to the increased risk of cancer from consuming charred meat,” said Wynne.
The 5,500 square foot space will include a good-sized patio for al fresco dining. Like Wynne’s other concepts, it will feature an eclectic beer and wine menu to compliment the food and plenty of that Wynne charm that makes each of his concepts so fun. “Mudhen will offer healthy dining options with meat proteins or as vegetarian dishes to compliment the vibe of the new Farmers Market, at an affordable $9-$14 price point” said Wynne. Mudhen is scheduled to open in the early summer of 2015.