Kevin von Ehrenfried can’t wait to get back to Arlington, and with a little help from Urban Union developer Ryan Dodson, neither we nor Kevin will have to wait much longer.
Ahead of the curve
Kevin began in the restaurant business like countless others: by washing dishes. But he was also armed with culinary talent, creativity, energy and drive, so it wasn’t long before he was taking trips to Chicago, Oregon, Washington and points between which, he says, opened his eyes to an emerging market trend. The trend not only had the potential to revolutionize the beverage industry but the food industry as well.
Kevin’s long career with Humperdinks Brewpubs situated him at the forefront of the craft beer movement in DFW. Launched in 1976 as a neighborhood restaurant in Dallas, Humperdinks eventually began brewing its own award-winning beer, in part fueling their 1995 expansion into Arlington.
“During our time with Humperdinks,” Kevin said, “we especially loved being part of the Arlington community.”
Along the way, Kevin and the Humperdinks’ team experimented with interesting ingredients, unique flavors and unexpected pairings that conjoined beer and food. Back then, the idea of infusing beer with citrus or chocolate or coffee was brand new if not suspect, and beer pairing rarely went beyond burgers, pizza and nachos.
Over time, thanks in part to brewpubs like Humperdinks, the public’s taste for experimentation grew and craft brewing mainstreamed. In 2015, when Kevin co-founded Pouring Glory, a growler filling station and gastro pub in Ft. Worth, it hit on all cylinders from Day One.
Having also co-founded Von Restaurant Group in the same year as Pouring Glory, Kevin was poised to capitalize on additional opportunities made possible by the Texas craft beer boom. The concept, said Kevin, builds on “infusing craft beer with great, trend-setting foods in a relaxed atmosphere with ‘wow factor’ ambiance.”
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 celebrating several redevelopment successes in Downtown Arlington including Block 300 retail, 404 Border urban living community, and the beginnings of a large-scale, adaptive mixed-use redevelopment called Urban Union.
“As Ryan and I got to know each other, I was so impressed with his passion and commitment to the area,” Kevin said. “He has a clear vision for Urban Union, and he’s being very selective in order to preserve the project’s integrity and vibe.”
Ice, ice baby
Before long, 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.”
The Craft Yard, which will be located at 301 E. Front Street in Downtown Arlington, is set to open early in 2018. The ice house-themed restaurant and bar will have a chef-driven menu, a full bar, and of course, plenty of craft beer.
“It’s important to us to get involved right away in our community,” said Kevin, “and we welcome ideas. For instance, you can visit our Facebook page and suggest menu items. No cookie-cutter or corporate approach for us! We’re going to have fun with food at the Craft Yard, and we’re looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood.”
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About Downtown Arlington
An official State of Texas Cultural District, Downtown Arlington, Texas 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. Downtown Arlington brings together a plethora of cultures and inspirations with a character all its own.