Behind-the-Scenes Peek at The Shops at Willow Bend’s New Restaurant District

This week, The Shops at Willow Bend gave members of the media a behind-the-scenes peek at the progress on its soon-to-open Restaurant District. As part of The Shops’ $125 million overhaul, the Restaurant District will include a new grand entrance into the shopping center, a large grassy outdoor plaza, valet parking and four chef-driven restaurants. The restaurants will open mid September to late September with the Restaurant District grand opening planned for October 4.

Celebrity chef John Tesar’s second location of his highly-awarded Dallas steakhouse, Knife, will offer a variety of seafood items, vegetarian meals, and, of course, the all natural Texas-raised steaks the Dallas location is known for. The restaurant will also feature a separate private dining room with its own dedicated kitchen, a “butcher shop” to sell merchandise and butcher’s cuts to go and a walk-up window, accessible from the shopping center’s interior, offering Knife Burgers to go.

Chef John Tesar of Knife steakhouse and Knife Burger, explaining the layout of the new restaurant // photos Jennifer Shertzer

Whistle Britches, another North Dallas favorite, will open its second location at The Shops. Guests will enjoy Chef Omar Flores’ delicious comfort foods like fried chicken sandwiches with fresh baked, buttermilk biscuits and Southern-style sides. This location will carry over the colorful, family friendly feel from the North Dallas location.

Jalal Chanaa his brother, Adam Shanaa, will open their third location of Terra Mediterranean in the district, as well. Also the founders of Ali Baba restaurant, the brothers have served the Dallas area for over 20 years, offering fresh, healthy Mediterranean dishes inspired by Greek and Lebanese cuisine. Terra Mediterranean will reside in two stories at The Shops, with the spacious upstairs patio overlooking the Restaurant District’s grassy plaza.

Plano will also be introduced to Mexican Bar Company, a brand new concept from Chef Patricio Sandoval that offers authentic Mexican dishes cooked on wood and coal burning grills. The menu will include tacos on handmade corn tortillas, as well as freshly prepared ceviches, guacamoles and salsas. Mexican Bar Company will also host a to-go window accessible from the shopping center’s interior offering quick bites to grab and go.

The new main entrance – mid-construction – to The Shops at Willow Bend

At the media preview, The Shops at Willow Bend Marketing Director Amy Medford also announced the opening of Ascension Annex. Located right inside the new grand entrance to The Shops, the annex will serve the same beverage items offered at the Ascension Coffee locations spread out across the Metroplex, as well as limited food options. In addition to specialty coffees and espresso drinks, guests will be able to pick up craft beer or fine wine to sip as they shop. Ascension founder Russell Hayward hopes to open a temporary pop-up shop next week until the permanent spot is finished.

As part of the shopping center’s renovation and reimagining, Crayola Experience family attraction recently opened this past March, one of only four in the United States. Last December, Willow Bend Center of the Arts opened as the home for North Texas Performing Arts and Plano Children’s Theater. In 2019, The Shops at Willow Bend will also welcome luxury fitness center Equinox, a seven-story, 200,000 square foot office tower and a 10-screen Cinépolis movie theater.

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