Austin’s loss is Dallas’ gain. Chad Dolezal, the chef and co-owner of The Hightower, is leaving town to open a spinoff of the neighborhood favorite in Dallas.
Dolezal grew up in the Big D and says he wants his kids to grow up there as well. He'll move to Dallas oversee the new restaurant in the city's Oak Cliff neighborhood. Meanwhile, his Hightower partner, Victor Farnsworth, will remain in Austin to manage the original.
The Hightower opened in 2014 and set itself apart by putting out quality food at affordable prices in an unpretentious environment. The food and drinks are described as "new Texas cuisine," inspired by Eastern European and Mexican flavors that represent the state’s heritage.
Dolezal is decidedly down-to-earth. After opening The Hightower, he confessed he wasn't a fan of the term chef, stating that he takes just as much pride in being a cook. "Being a chef means a lot more things and it's a wide range," he told CultureMap at the time. "To me, it’s become more of a figurehead public speaking role versus cooking in a kitchen. And I feel I can take more pride standing in a kitchen with cooks, being a cook."
When it comes to the Dallas outpost, Dolezal isn't revealing many details. "I want this to be its own version of the Hightower, and it won't be called that," he says. "We're throwing around two or three names, but I want it to be as unique to the neighborhood as I can make it. This is under the Hightower umbrella, but it's going to be something unique to Dallas and Oak Cliff." (Hightower is his mother's maiden name.)
He's not divulging the address yet; they're purchasing the property — a unique vintage building — and are still under contract, and he doesn't want to jinx the deal. He says it will definitely be a bigger venture than Austin. "We're picturing a decent-size dining room but also an outdoor area that's family-friendly, which is something we're not able to provide in Austin because it's a smaller space," Dolezal admits.
Oak Cliff won't only be home to the new Hightower, but the chef's family as well. "Oak Cliff is significant. My mother worked here for AIDS Services in Oak Cliff and we were specific about where we wanted to be," Dolezal says. "I fought hard and looked long and I'm proud we get to be in Oak Cliff."