Twenty at The Tower

In March of 2000, I wasn’t anywhere near Fort Worth. I had actually only visited once to see some friends that attended TCU. I was working at the Gruene Mansion Restaurant outside of New Braunfels, which has since closed and reopened as another concept. I had never heard of the Bank One Tower and had only vaguely heard about Reata. When a devastating F2 tornado ripped through downtown Fort Worth that month, I had no idea it was something that would shape my life in such a way.

Some may recall that Reata opened its Fort Worth location in 1996 on the 35th floor of the Bank One Tower, now rebranded as The Tower. After the tornado hit, it took six weeks to rebuild the restaurant. Reata would be forced to close again in January 2011 and then re-open in May 2002 in its current location that formerly housed Caravan of Dreams.

I’ve told hundreds of our guests at Reata about the tornado that you would think that I was up in The Tower that night. So now, having the opportunity to open a restaurant in that building, even for only 20 nights, is very special to me.

One of the many challenges with putting together the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival is keeping up everyone’s enthusiasm and interest for over a year until the spring of 2014 gets here. Twenty at the Tower was an idea that originated from our planning committee to give people a taste of the fun and food they will experience at the Festival.

Pop-up restaurants are pretty common in Europe and on the coasts. There haven’t been too many of them around here. In the spring of 2010, Chris Jeffers, Chris Zielke and Tim Byres opened a pop-up, 48 Nights, in Dallas. It was open for 48 nights and featured some of Dallas’ biggest chefs, as well as Blaine Staniford from GRACE. From all accounts, it was a big success and it raised a good amount of money for the Mass Care Task Force.

Twenty at the Tower will be open every Sunday and Monday night starting Sunday, June 2, 2013, until Monday, July 29, 2013. Two additional Tuesday nights will make it a nice even 20 nights. Guests (50 each night) will be seated at 6:30 p.m. for a pre-dinner reception with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Dinner will begin promptly at 7 p.m. A different chef will prepare a multicourse menu each night. Drinks are BYOB and seating will be family style. You won’t know which renowned Texas chef will be preparing dinner until you arrive to Twenty at the Tower.

Participating chefs include Fort Worth’s Blaine Staniford (Grace), Kevin Martinez (Tokyo Café), Juan Rodriguez (Reata), and Michael Thomson (Michael’s); Weatherford’s Eric Hunter (Fire Oak Grill); and Dallas’ John Tesar (Spoon) and Scott Gottlich (Bijoux).

Tickets are $75/person. Tune into social media for information on where to buy tickets or visit the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival website for more information.

Russell Kirkpatrick is AGM at Reata Restaurant and Founder of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival.