Texans believe in the sanctity of traditions. Friday night lights. Remembering the Alamo. Honoring a hand-shake deal. And when it comes to kicking back, there may be none more sacrosanct than floating the river.
That’s how we’d describe the atmosphere at The Tipsy Oak, an ice house-themed gastropub opening any day now in Downtown Arlington’s rapidly growing development, Urban Union. Even without proximity to the Guadalupe (although just under five miles south of River Legacy), co-owners Kevin and Julia von Ehrenfried know how to create venues that are comfy, fun, and might even get you to put down your cell phone. The Tipsy Oak aims to accomplish all that by uniting a chef-driven menu, full bar with plenty of craft beer options, and a lazy river state-of-mind.
Kick back and stay awhile
Creating a place where people can relax and linger is important to Kevin and Julia, but equally important is understanding the diversity of their customer base.
“It’s going to be tough to define our ‘typical’ crowd, because different people will come to The Tipsy Oak for different reasons,” said Kevin.
“There will be UTA, City employees, business people and freelancers looking for a place where they can loosen their ties during lunch or a meeting. There are the families who are visiting the new Library, the Levitt and other Downtown attractions. There’s the stadium crowd that will hop the shuttle. And there are all the folks in the Mid-Cities – like Keller, Coppell, Southlake, etc. – who are closer to us than to either Ft. Worth or Dallas.”
While many claim to have something for everyone, Kevin easily foresees The Tipsy Oak delivering on that promise. “We’ve been surveying folks for a long time now, especially through our active Facebook and Instagram communities,” said Kevin. “Our core menu will reflect their feedback and deliver the ‘wow-factor.’ Meanwhile, our chalk board menu will allow us to change on a dime as we continue to listen and experiment.”
Bonuses to this chef-driven flexibility are the varying price points on the menu and behind the bar. Families and dog owners will also be drawn to the backyard vibe. With only about a dozen table indoors, most of the seating will be found at the outdoor picnic tables.
“Patios can be operationally challenging,” said Kevin, “but let’s face it. People love to be outside. It’s instant relaxation. To enhance that even further, we’ll have live entertainment on some weekends. We’re aiming for an Austin-ish feel delivered Arlington-style.”
The man with the plan
Kevin’s long career in the restaurant business – including Humperdinks Brewpubs and Pouring Glory in Ft. Worth – has given him a deep understanding of the public’s desire to be surprised with unique flavors, interesting ingredients and unexpected pairings, particularly those that conjoin beer and food. Combine that with his interest in returning to Arlington and his Tipsy Oak concept was born.
Right around the time Pouring Glory opened its doors, Kevin met Ryan Dodson, President of Development for Dodson Companies. Among their many commercial projects, Dodson Companies was beginning a large-scale, adaptive mixed-use redevelopment called Urban Union.
In no time, Kevin was hooked on Urban Union. As he and Ryan toured available properties, they brainstormed ideas together. Kevin credits Ryan for suggesting the ice house concept. “That’s a void in the Arlington-Mid Cities market,” said Kevin. “The closest ice house restaurant is in Ft. Worth. This concept fits perfectly with my vision and with Ryan’s.”
Part of the neighborhood
“It’s important to us to stay involved with our community,” said Kevin, “so we’ll be looking for unique opportunities to partner with other Downtown businesses and traditions. For instance, you might see us catering an event at Legal Draft or participating in an outdoor festival.”
The Tipsy Oak continues to welcome your ideas via their Facebook page. “We’re going to have fun with food at The Tipsy Oak, which means so will you,” Kevin said. “And we sure are looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood.”
The Tipsy Oak
301 E. Front Street, Arlington
Gastropub and Icehouse
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About Downtown Arlington
Designated by the State of Texas as the Arlington Cultural District, Downtown Arlington blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate.