Chef John Tesar, arguably one of the most famous chefs in North Texas, is finally opening a restaurant in Fort Worth, and drum roll please – it will be his third Knife Burger concept, and the first with a full bar.
Knife Burger will be located inside the new Crockett Street Food Hall, which is now under construction on the northwest corner of Crockett Street and Norwood Street, adjacent to Kona Grill.
The Crockett Street Food Hall will be 16,000 square feet, and will feature a wide variety of cuisines, including its anchor tenant Knife Burger by John Tesar.
This will be the first entry into the North Texas market by Hospitality Alliance, which already has a presence in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The Food Hall will house 15 different concepts. “We will have barbeque, Italian, Asian, coffee and even doughnuts,” says CEO Kevin Lillis of Hospitality Alliance. Lillis is so bullish on the North Texas market, that he is making plans to open a Dallas office of Hospitality Alliance in the very near future.
Lillis confirmed that Dapper Donuts has signed on as well, serving up their hand-made, fresh-from-the-fryer, mini-donuts. With around 15 current locations popping up around the nation, including high-profile locations at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as well as the Oculus in New York City, Dapper Donuts will also have locations in Houston, Dallas and Frisco.
“Dapper Donuts will have a to-go window, as will the coffee shop in the development, which will have two pass-through windows on Crockett Street for speed and convenience,” says Lillis. “The other tenants in Crockett Street Food Hall will be more Fort Worth-focused and will comprise some the best local operators in area, as we make those announcements in the coming weeks.”
Lillis says they are hoping to be open by the first of the year, but while the ground floor space is already built, the finish out construction schedule may realistically push the opening to February or March of 2018.
It will be divided into two separate spaces with a covered Paseo in the middle, providing additional seating. Crockett Street Food Hall will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “There will be live music, a sound stage, and speakers throughout; along with artworks and murals for our patrons to enjoy,” Lillis says.
John Tesar’s legendary career, has led him from New York to Las Vegas to Dallas. After his laudable performance at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Tesar opened Spoon Bar & Kitchen in 2013 in Dallas. It received critical acclaim from the likes of Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit Magazine, and Esquire magazine when it debuted.
Tesar then turned his attention towards more lethal cutlery…something closer to his sharp-edged persona.
He opened Knife, where he is chef partner and restauranteur, the following year, in 2014 and began receiving national attention for his dry-aged classic, prime and specialty steaks.
“Knife has been very successful for us,” he said. Knife serves up steakhouse dishes featuring all-natural Texas purveyed beef, pork and lamb – dry-aged in-house to perfection. He has even been experimenting with dry aged foie gras, in his meat locker with tantalizing results. “Most people don’t have the ability to dry-age meats like we do with low temperature and low humidity.”
After appearing in Season 14 of "Top Chef," Tesar is in high demand, jet-setting to appearances at Food Festivals around the country, with a stop at our own Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival last April. Unfortunately, Tesar says he will not be back for Season 15 of "Top Chef." He simply has too much on his plate.
His first cookbook, “Knife: Steakhouse Meals at Home,” was produced in conjunction with Flatiron Books and Macmillan, and was released in May 2017.
He has also been busy working on concepts around the country, and consulting on many other new ventures. Tesar is the genius, for instance, behind the menus at DRG Concepts’ Dallas Chop House, Dallas Fish Market, The Cedars Social, Oak in the Design District and Wild Salsa and Chop House Burger both of which also debuted earlier this year in downtown Fort Worth’s City Place.
Oh … and Tesar is currently in the development stages of two different television show pilots, one tentatively named "Pop-Up Kitchen," and another which will be a restaurant restoration show.
With his 60th birthday just around the corner, this November, he said, “It’s time for me to focus more of my time on training talented chefs and on expanding the brand.” John Tesar has big plans to do just that.
Knife Steakhouse will add another 6,000-square foot location in the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, along with a 350-square foot Knife Burger with direct mall access, and a butcher shop for customers to take home some of those expertly aged steaks. “The meat locker at our Plano location will hold 500 pieces of meat,” Tesar says. All are set to open there in February.
Knife Houston is still on the horizon, but he says, “I am actually looking at opening a location in Denver next.”
Another Knife Burger is already in the works − opening at the at the new Legacy West development in Plano this November.
With all that activity swirling around him, Chef Tesar has finally set his sights on opening a restaurant in Fort Worth. When questioned why it took him so long to get here, Tesar said, “It’s only 30 miles between Fort Worth and Dallas, but sometimes it feels so much farther away. When looking at expanding the brand we always ask two questions; can we make a difference and can we make money? It has to have that perfect balance to succeed.”
“It really makes sense for us to expand Knife Burger,” he says. “We love working with 44 Farms and Heartbrand Beef, aging their 100 percent angus beef for Knife Steakhouse. But, those ranches also need an outlet for their ground beef. Their animals are not fed corn, so they have the best combination of genetics and high-quality feed; and they never leave the state, making our steaks and hamburgers a truly Texas-sourced product.”
Fort Worth’s very own Knife Burger at Crockett Street Food Hall will be the largest to date at 1,100-square feet, and it will also be the first to incorporate a full bar. “We will have wine, and wine-on-tap, along with plenty of beer selections and craft cocktails,” Tesar said. “The atmosphere and energy of the new food hall makes it the perfect location to open a fun and social place like Knife Burger.”
A chef with that many irons in the fire, can be forgiven for his rather slow trek towards opening a restaurant in sleepy little Cowtown. We understand that Tesar has had his hands full, we’re just excited that Fort Worth finally made the cut.
The original version of this article has been updated.