DALLAS BBQ TO CLOSE AFTER 36 YEARS ON 72ND STREET

dallas bbq

Dallas BBQ, the barbeque restaurant on 72nd street between Columbus and Central Park West, is closing after New Year’s Eve, a manager there told us. We heard from a regular customer that the restaurant was closing because of a large rent increase, but the manager couldn’t confirm.

This Dallas BBQ, which opened in 1978, was the first in the city. There are now 10 others. Dallas BBQ serves inexpensive food that draws big crowds. “I heard from the waitress. First thing out of her mouth. My friend and I were both stunned,” wrote Bob, our original tipster. “So many people depend on Dallas BBQ for an inexpensive meal or delivery.”

As Bizjournals described the chain in an article last year:

“At these large eateries, the early bird special ordered before 6 p.m. will buy two rotisserie, half-chickens, chicken soup, baked potatoes or fries and cornbread for $10 a couple. That’s $10 a couple before tax, drinks and tip…

Critics are decidedly mixed in their Dallas BBQ reviews. Ed Levine in his Serious Eats blog described the wings as ‘crispy and crunchy and clearly showed that someone knows how to fry,’ and said its fries are superior to trendy Shake Shack, though he wasn’t impressed with its ribs. The blog Mr. Cutlets described the food at Dallas BBQ ‘as an affront to us as a city.’ One patron on Yelp described his meal as ‘two dry half chickens, two watery vegetable soups, two stale pieces of cornbread with awful potatoes.'”

But the place has a long history in the neighborhood, and is beloved by many people who remember getting a filling meal for a good price. One reviewer on Yelp wrote: “When I lived a few blocks away I ordered from you at least 2-3 times a month.  To say that I only exist on this earth today because of  your (at that time) $5 take out chicken is not a lie. Only a very, very few times was the delivery order ever wrong or the food not spot-on.”

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 65 comments | permalink
    1. Jean says:

      Wow! The West Side Federation had their holiday party there, every year!

    2. Lisa says:

      For many years, especially before it opened up other branches, Dallas BBQ represented the diversity of NYC. New Yorkers (not tourists or suburban-reared twentysomethings) from all boroughs, all shapes, all ages etc., ate there…Everyone was welcome there.

      • webot says:

        If you truly believed in diversity, then you would include tourists and suburban reared twenty somethings , not disparage them.

        just saying.

      • BarbaraG says:

        And everyone was still welcomed there. Tourists and suburban raised twenty somethings are people too. Tourists kept this city’s finances together the past few years, so thank them.

    3. A says:

      This makes me incredibly sad.

    4. geoff says:

      i was there during its first week. that and hisae’s, across the street, made us what we are today.

    5. Harriet says:

      When my kids were young (in the late 80s and early 90s), we were regular patrons for the early bird special. It was one of the only ways we could afford to eat out. However, I confess I have not been there since the 20th Century. So, will not mourn its loss.

    6. Pedestrian says:

      Sad. Greed kills another UWS tradition for average humans.

    7. Jean Joachim says:

      Okay, making plans right now to go to Dallas Barbecue three times before New Year’s. How awful!!! One of those places you could count on and could seat a large party quickly. DAMN!

    8. Barbara G says:

      The residents of W72 between CPW and Columbus have received an early New Years gift. The place was filthy and there were fights outside of the place almost every weekend. This is great news for our neighborhood!

    9. Lulu says:

      I was there for the first time last week. It was so dirty. Food all over floors, bathrooms were a mess. Service was awful. I overheard a waitress cursing our a bartender. They ran out of Chardonnay and didn’t have a cork screw to open the pino Grigio! The food was just ok. I’m not surprised they’re closing. I wouldn’t have ever gone back. Guess I missed their Heyday.

    10. Bob says:

      I will be sad this place is closing. They were usually very slow to deliver though and no matter how many times i said, ‘extra crispy fries’ they would always cook them the same way… not crispy. i dunno. this was not a good spot but it is a clutch spot for wings and things and it’s not overly expensive. ill miss it.

    11. Eddie says:

      They will be missed, though my cardiologist is probably celebrating. It is interesting that they are shutting down while their sister restaurant, Tony’s Di Napoli, is opening across the street.

      • James says:

        Tony di Napoli is not opening across the street. Sambucca, the sister restaurant of Tony di Napoli, closed and put up that sign in the window directing customers to the other restaurant.

        Blue Ribbon is opening in that space.

    12. Elizabeth O'Neill says:

      I have ordered here at least one night a week for nearly 25 years–the meals are good, plentiful, and well priced. While I used to live across the street, having moved uptown further we STILL have it delivered and don’t mind the added delivery fee. Another one of my “go to’s” bites the dust. Very sad indeed…..

    13. EricUWS says:

      So happy this dive is closing – it’s completely out of place in the neighborhood. Now only if McDonald’s would realize the same fate a couple of blocks west…

      • Eddie says:

        Close down Dallas BBQ, McDonald’s and everything else for the common man so we can have a few more Starbucks, pretentious wine bars and places that sell 14 varieties of kale! Brilliant!

      • John says:

        I agree that the Mcdonalds on 71st Street is a blight on the neighborhood. It’s not about eliminating food (nutritionally bereft)for the common man. It’s about the unruly crowds this place draws.

    14. Dave says:

      My first summer in New York (1986), my roommate and I had the “Early Bird Special” every Monday night (followed by a new innovation: FrozeFruits!) Couldn’t beat the deal.

      When my wife and I were first married, we had the “Early Bird Special” at least once a week.

      My visits there have slowed over the years, and I’ve always found it a bit of an odd place for a BBQ joint, but it will be missed. It’s a shame. Sorry for the people who will be losing their jobs… (Hope the building “deals” as it raises the rent and hopes for a new tenant to fill that void…)

    15. John says:

      I live in the neighborhood and have not eaten here for 15 years. Just bad food and much better choices available. I’m sure that many of those mourning the loss of DBBQ have not been there in years either.

      • Gus V says:

        I ate there last week and it was actually quite tastey. The problem is that it was not so consistant. But last week and this last year it was always good.

    16. webot says:

      I used to go there years ago. Again, things changed. They had a good run and are now a chain.. So I don’t think there is anything sad or outrageous here or yet another attack on the landlords. For all we know they had a long term lease and were paying way under market.

      Now, the space used to the ballroom for the Ellcott (?) hotel. My aunt and uncle got married there in the early 50s.
      Would be great to see it restored to its former glory.

    17. ira says:

      My daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday there. They will be missed.

    18. Gus V says:

      The neihborhood will be at a loss due to the greedy landlords. Dallas BB Q provided a great space for big parties and food on the cheap. I always loved that place around graduation time — filled the space up with joy and celebration. Our gang will miss it!!

      • Bobby says:

        Enough with the “greedy landlord” spiel already. You live in a free market economy. Get over it!

        • Kris says:

          Actually we don’t live in a free market-economy, alas. Many limits to competition by big everything.

        • Howard Freeman says:

          If I saw evidence that some of the chains or big bank branches were not partially subsidized by corporate budgets (or even by corporate services for PR/creative services) then I’ll believe it’s a “free market economy.”

          Until then, as big companies can pay for local advertising in the form of corner branch banks, I’ll believe that the market is closed to all but the largest competitors.

      • Michael says:

        It’s always the other guy who’s greedy. None of us of course are greedy and if Gus owned the space I’m sure he would charge less rent than he could otherwise get for it because who needs extra money.

    19. chmch says:

      The huge rents only work for franchise type places, but there’s a finite amount of them. There’s already turnovers of failed franchise businesses and when that happens you get stuck with empty property, empty windows.

      • bobby says:

        And when the properties are empty long enough, the rents will drop and non-franchise renters will be able to afford them. That’s how the market works.

        • ELJ says:

          Yes, theoretically that is correct but many building owners on the UWS seem to be able to hold on for incredibly long periods of time before renting their space. An example I use frequently is the former home of a Capital One bank branch (a NorthFork branch before their merger) on the NE corner of Broadway & W. 91st St. The space has been empty since 2011. That’s a long time to leave a space empty rather than accept a lower rent.

    20. Brian says:

      Does anyone remember in its early days on 72nd St the restaurant was called Swiss Chalet? It was the same menu as Dallas BBQ, nothing Swiss about it whatsoever! The name made no sense at all.

    21. Sean says:

      I know someone who will be just thrilled by this news.

    22. ursus arctos says:

      Swiss Chalet is a Canadian chain with a very, very tenuous connection to Switzerland.

      https://www.swisschalet.com/

      Agree with Howard and chmch about the market dynamics here. What we are seeing are in many respect corporate billboards masquerading as retail establishments (this is particularly true of banks).

      bobby may ultimately be right about market corrections, but looking at the volume of empty storefronts in the area, the “market” is taking an awful long time to adjust.

    23. Clifford says:

      Do not just talk, ACT, WITH YOUR MONEY!
      DO NOT patronize ANYTHING that enters that space and pays the commercial real estate pigs the price they are asking for the space. The new tenants will then fail and the pigs will make nothing fro their space.

    24. Brian says:

      I’m glad this place is closing; their food is terrible. Chirping Chicken is at a similar price point and offers food that is 100x better than Dallas BBQ. The huge drinks were a novel concept, but honestly I won’t shed any tears.

    25. Mitch G says:

      I just realized it’s my yelp review that West Side Rag is quoting! I’ll miss you BBQ…the pulled pork sandwich and baby back, or beef ribs are the fall of the bone good. Great fried shrimp and burgers too. Quality has been a bit up and down in recent years, but the flavor was always there…not to smoky, not to sweet…if that great big space becomes another drugstore or bank it would be a travesty…the UWS has becoming the blandest neighborhood in the city.

    26. Robin says:

      So sad this is a end of an era!! I had my 1st date there with my ex husband over 30 years ago! We took our children there! The piano in the middle of the restaurant! I no longer live in NY. And hate that I can’t go there for dinner when I come home.

    27. Margith says:

      I or we kids started going to Dallas BBQ when my son Ruark Adam graduated from PS 166 on 86 street, now my son is 35 with kids of his own. I didn’t know there was one there till that day, but after that when ever we were in Central Park which is almost always we would end up there for either lunch or dinner.. We love their food and great customer service. If there is any thing any of us can do, please let us know. It’s nice when There’s place that’s familiar and family oriented

    28. Darcel Smith says:

      I was just there the beginning of December for my 43rd birthday celebration! I had dinner with family and friends! I had a great time too! Wow I hate to see it close! I love the cuisine and the drinks are off the chain! I’m glad I got to eat there one last time before it’s closing

    29. Michele says:

      Sad that the landlords have been allowed to destroy the city. Maybe they will put a bank there.

      • webot says:

        Landlords are the ones who actually built the physical city.

        are there bad landlords? absolutely.

        bad tenants? yup.

        you don’t know the story here. they had a great run.

        Would love to see an event space in this former ballroom.

        Oh wait, we have a community that does not allow bars to keep the legal hours til 4 am and kicks out one of the worlds most glamorous events: Fashion week.
        Could you see Hollywood throw out the Academy Awards? Or really any community thumb their nose at a huge economic engine?

        But you keep on blaming those evil landlords for everything.

    30. mechell says:

      That lets u know that its tome to move from there and find a new location don’t be defeated.

    31. Sam says:

      I understand that people enjoyed this place for a long time but the franchise needs to rename itself. A bbq joint without a hardwood smoker is akin to a pizzeria using an easy bake oven.

      Dallas steams or bakes their “bbq”, there is no smoking at all. Yet when you read their menu they claim to slowly smoke their food. It’s a deceiving practice and shows that they think their customers are ignorant.

      You want BBQ head down to the LES and chow down at Mighty Quinn’s. You want the same bbq they serve at diners, keep patronizing Dallas BBQ.

    32. Joe says:

      I’ve been recently and it was so old and dilapidated looking and half empty on a friday…really doesn’t fit in the neighborhood anymore, especially with all the new ones. I’ll miss having one within walking distance though grrr

    33. BabsieBaby says:

      Wow!! I was just here a few months ago. I’ve had some many great memories here. I guess this is truly my cue to bounce.

    34. Chea Castro says:

      I have been going to this location since 1978. I first went there when I was 8 years old. I went there for my elementary school graduation my sweet 16 celebration. The day after my prom. The day after I graduated from high school my grandparents have passed away they ate their. And numerous other celebrations and milestones in my life. It breaks my heart that they’re closing. All the memories and family times that I haven’t occasion when I’ll be gone. The last time I was able to eat there was December 18th 2013. We went for a family dinner before the holidays there were 12 of us. I want to thank this location for all the memories, all the great service, and the wonderful food. Mostly I just want to thank them for the memories you saved my life and my waistline. Lol!if I still lived in New York I’d get there one more time before they closed. Thanks for the memories!

    35. Had my husband 50th birthday party there had a blast really going to miss you guys

    36. nicki says:

      This place should have been shut down by the health department based on my last and final experience there. It was so filthy and unsanitary. Our party of 6 walked out before the food arrived. Sorry to server, but we looked around and upon return from un-usable restroom – so gross we had to leave. The early glory days attached to fond days were long gone. Headed to sanitary, Cafe 82 great food.

    37. Ron says:

      My sister’s wedding reception was there circa 1982. I will take friends from out of town there. I found something valuable in the men’s room i the 1990’s.( I have given it to the manager who didn’t announce it publicly therefore I asked for it back and I continue to reach them by phone).

      Twenty-third Street would be my next best choice for my out -of town friends. Co-Op City would be an option parking accessible.

      Dallas should look in the area around West 96 Street or Morningside Heights for the next restaurant.

    38. Noel Holland says:

      I’m immensely grateful that I’m not as fussy an eater as Mr. Cutlet. Unlike him, I have enjoyed the ‘watery’ soup, the chicken that affronts his taste, and the potatoes at Dallas BBQ virtually since they opened. I’ve never had any of the awful experiences he seems to have endured…nor have any of the friends I have introduced to the fantastic value of the Early Bird Special. Poor Mr. Cutlet! His life does indeed sound unbearably barren.

      • Ehhhh says:

        Dallas Bar-B-Q may not quite be “an affront to the city”, but the quality of the food there was pretty mediocre – the flavorless chicken dripping with grease and overly salted. I won’t miss it at all.
        Chirping Chicken on Amsterdam is far superior.

    39. Doris Swaim says:

      I believe the reviewer got it backward. The ribs were always good and the fries couldn’t touch McDonals’. It was convenient and thrifty. We will sorely miss them. I hope they open another place nearby soon.

    40. eric chapman says:

      Please do not close that place we need it in the community I loved go there with my family and friends it’s some places we could afford to go!!!!!!!!

    41. john says:

      Is the West Side Rag on line only?

    42. Anne says:

      How utterly depressing … the only french fries in the universe that were worth getting clogged arteries for !!!!
      (And delivered right to your home, no less).
      Our bodies will be better for it, but damned the damned landlord anyway !!!!!!!!! Maybe he’ll fall on his butt after slipping on some french fry oil as he licks his lips at his new giant space.

    43. W72Neighbor says:

      Happy to see the restaurant go. There were constant fights and noise from 6pm-2am on weekend nights. It isn’t a neighborhood place – everyone seemed to drive there from elsewhere and cause issues with dangerous U-turns and double parking down w72. The frying oil tank truck disturbs residents of w73 with the drone of the pump every weekend as it hauls away all the waste. Good riddance.

    44. Michael says:

      Will miss this place. Many memories from all the years of either working at Central Park Summerstage Concerts or living on 96th & Broadway walking home. My wife for some reason loved celebrating her birthday there and getting an extra corn muffin. I understand the rent was probably outrageous but the place definitely needed major renovations. Looking forward to the next location closer to West 96th & Broadway.

    45. Fun times says:

      This Dallas BBQ location was the best.
      Wonderful memories of dining there, it’s such a shame to see it go.

    46. Myron Gold says:

      Good Riddance to a restaurant that didnt care about disabled people for 36 years. They had no wheelchair accessibility.And they didnt care .Good bye and good riddance.