The Dallas Spiral Diner vegan restaurant is closing August 2022 in Oak Cliff.
“People are going to think we’re completely nuts,” says owner Amy McNutt, who opened the meat- and dairy-free restaurant nearly 15 years ago in Dallas. Spiral Diner sold vegan comfort food long before most of its current competitors caught up.
She’s been doing it even longer in what’s called Cowtown: Spiral Diner in Fort Worth opened 20 years ago this month and remains in operation.
McNutt says the aging building on N. Beckley Avenue in Dallas “needs more love than we can afford to give it.”
“The owners were unwilling to meet us where we needed to be,” McNutt says. And so, Dallas’ best-known longtime vegan restaurant will close its doors by the end of the week.
Restaurant workers will start selling items — dairy-free pastries, cashew-cheese nachos, meatless burgers and more — starting August 8, 2022. If they have enough products, the store will stay open until Sunday August 1st. 14, 2022, but it will depend on the demand of the store’s many customers.
The Impact of Spiral Diner in North Texas
When McNutt started selling meatless foods in Fort Worth in 2002, she says she was “young enough to go there and not care.” She didn’t know if it would work, because there were no other vegan restaurants to compare her restaurant to.
She’s been eating vegan since she was little, mostly because she’s “animal friendly,” she says.
The first Spiral Diner was created to meet the needs of busy people who choose to eat without animals. The Dallas store followed the same pattern.
“We really wanted to sell all of these comfort foods — the things that would always be the excuse,” she says. “As, I really love ice cream Where I really like cheeseWhere I can’t imagine not being able to eat breakfast foods. We wanted to recreate those things, totally vegan. You don’t have to sacrifice taste to follow a vegan diet.
Bestsellers in Dallas include the Lumberjack, a breakfast cookie and gravy, tofu scramble, and two “sausage” patties, all vegan. The Nacho Supremo is another popular order. Filled with dairy-free cheese, black beans, quinoa, olives, guacamole and more, it’s easy to forget these nachos might have had beef or chicken at another restaurant.
Spiral Diner has restaurants in Fort Worth and Denton that will remain open. But the Dallas restaurant‘s closure leaves a plant-based void in the region’s largest city, even though many other vegan restaurants have opened in Spiral’s 15 years of operation.
“What I will miss is the connection that the guests and the team have made with the place,” says Samantha Ofeno, CEO.
“It’s a safe space for people,” adds McNutt.
3 new upcoming vegan restaurants
As the Dallas restaurant closes, Spiral Diner management is quickly working on three new restaurants — two in Fort Worth and one in Arlington.
Maiden, an upscale vegan restaurant
In Fort Worth’s PS1200 development, McNutt and his team plan to open the city’s first gourmet vegan restaurant. Called Maiden: Fine Plants and Spirits, the restaurant will offer a seasonal six- to eight-course tasting menu intended to showcase creative cuisine that can be prepared without meat or dairy.
Maiden will serve “what we were never able to do at Spiral”, says McNutt. “Spiral is fast and comforting. It’s the exact opposite, where we can slow everything down, trim really beautifully.
The move wasn’t inspired by big-name restaurants like Eleven Madison Park in New York City that went vegan during the pandemic, but such a move helped reassure McNutt.
“Even these super-successful chefs are making this transition, and it doesn’t have to be scary,” she says. “It was really reassuring.”
Maiden is slated to open in early 2023 at 1200 Sixth Ave., Fort Worth, near the existing Spiral Diner in Fort Worth.
Dreamboat Donuts and Scoops, a small dessert shop
In the same development as Maiden, the company will open a vegan donut and ice cream shop named Dreamboat. It’s smaller than almost any restaurant we’ve talked about: less than 400 square feet.
Its vegan donuts will be made in a production kitchen in Fort Worth, making the small space more forgiving.
The menu will also include the popular dairy-free ice creams made over the years for Spiral Diner.
Ice cream is a cinch to make vegan, McNutt says. They use soy milk and sometimes coconut milk, with cashews to replace the eggs. For donuts, they replace eggs with baking powder.
“It just takes a little tinkering,” McNutt says.
Dreamboat Donuts and Scoops is set to open in early 2023 at 1200 Sixth Ave., Fort Worth, next to Maiden and near Spiral Diner.
Spiral Diner #3 in Arlington
The team will also open a new Spiral Diner on E. Front Street in the growing Arlington Urban Union development. It will serve a menu similar to existing Spiral Diners.
Spiral Diner is slated to open in 2023 on E. Front St., Arlington.
A future for vegan food in Dallas-Fort Worth
While some vegan restaurants like Project Pollo prefer not to use the “v” word, instead preferring “plant-based,” McNutt says his restaurants take pride in being vegan.
“We shout it from the top of the mountains,” she says.
She will continue to seek other locations for Spiral Diner — including Dallas — and says she expects to see Dreamboat expand if it’s successful in Fort Worth.
“Steady growth is our speed,” says McNutt. “Our biggest goal is to keep him where he never loses the culture we’ve built over 20 years.”