City Tavern Takes Over The Main Street Garden Park Cafe. Well, For Now.

Quietly, after a month or so of its service windows being shuttered, the cafe space formerly known as the Lily Pad in Downtown's Main Street Garden Park re-opened last Friday afternoon, and with something of a fresh take on the old concept.

See, the new entity in the old space isn't a cafe at all, really. Hell, there's barely any food to be had here. But on the plus side? There is beer. Lots of beer — about 14 different kinds, says Josh Florence, the man behind the new spot.

Don't recognize Florence's name? Well, you should.

He's the guy behind City Tavern becoming a legit downtown music venue, the guy behind the re-opening and renovation of Club Dada down in Deep Ellum and also the guy behind the upcoming third annual Homegrown Music and Arts Festival that takes place every springtime in the same park that the Lily Pad once occupied.

Now, temporarily, until Downtown Dallas finds a permanent tenant for the old Lily Pad space, he's the guy behind what he's calling the Main Street Beer Garden.

“It's been good,” he says of the week the new space has been in business. “It's been great, actually. There's a built-in crowd. It's kind of really popped within the bicycling community already. On our first night, there was maybe 40 people there at one point.”

Next week, Florence hopes to bring a band over to perform at the space — a way of sort of announcing it to the community, he says. For now, though, he's just content to sell beer to those who stumble upon it.

“We should have draught beer in there soon,” he says. “Maybe some hot dogs, too. For now, though, it's just cans and, literally, concession-style snacks like chips.”

Which is fine by him. Because even though his commitment to the space is temporary, he's already become quite fond of his pop-up bar, which is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Friday and from noon to 9 p.m. on weekends.

“I mean, if you're downtown, it's kind of a killer little spot,” he says. “It's not something we're quite ready to commit to permanently, but on a nice day like today, it's really tough to beat.”

Future tenants surely hope Florence is right.

And they may be coming in sooner rather than later. Already, after the week in which Florence and his patchwork team of bartenders from City Tavern, Dada and La Grange have managed the space, other business owners appear to have taken notice of the spot. Earlier today, Florence says, members of the Downtown Dallas organization told him that applications to manage the space have started to pour in.

“I think they said there were three applications already,” Florence says, “Now it's just a matter of them picking the right one.

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