Lava Cantina Artist Rendering

Lava Cantina Builds Suburban Concert Dream

By Kelly Dearmore | Dallas Observer

Later this year, The Colony — of all places — will welcome arguably the most ambitious music venue opening in North Texas. Lava Cantina, a 28,000-square-foot restaurant and live music depot, will become the brightest star in the promising Grandscape development. If all goes according to plan, The Colony could soon become a new concert destination — and if so, it’ll happen with the help of longtime Coach Joe’s Hat Tricks owner Tony Avezzano.

The new venue will share acreage with the gargantuan Nebraska Furniture Mart and the latest theme bar from none other than noted casino rockers KISS, among dozens of other restaurants and retail and entertainment options. The centerpiece of the sprawling venue, which will be larger than the original Lava Cantina in Baton Rouge, will be a 1,800-person-capacity concert area. Its size will make Lava Cantina an immediate competitor with many of Dallas’ most beloved venues.

Rock N Concepts, the company responsible for Lava Cantina, is helmed by former Cane’s Chicken COO Ian Vaughn. The Louisiana-raised Vaughn, though a lifelong music lover, is a newcomer to the business side of the North Texas music scene. That makes his hiring of Tony Avezzano to handle talent booking a well-advised move. Avezzano recently sold Hat Tricks, where he oversaw a rather eclectic concert schedule in Lewisville for the past decade, in order to move on to bigger things. Not only does Avezzano have a successful track record when it comes to the crowded live music market, but he knows full well what it takes to pack a room for a wide range of shows at a venue that’s off the beaten, Dallas-proper path.

More than ever, it seems that Dallas might be approaching a saturation point for major new music venues. With the openings of The Bomb Factory and Gas Monkey Live! in the past 16 months, it’s tough to imagine another venue joining in and flourishing without negatively affecting the quality of what’s going on at other venues. Those most at risk include the Granada Theater, House of Blues and slightly smaller spots such as Trees, Dada and The Kessler Theater. But what about the music-loving suburbs north of the insular Dallas bubble south of 635? The Ikea-flavored landscape is a blank canvas for enterprising minds looking to claim some lucrative entertainment territory.

“There’s room for Lava Cantina in the Dallas area because of where it’s located,” Avezzano says. “I think many people out this way in Carrollton, Plano, The Colony, Frisco, Plano, Allen and McKinney are ready for a great venue that’s north of 635 they can go to without having to worry so much about the drive home. That’s not a shot at Deep Ellum or downtown, but it’s just a matter of what will work best for music fans living closer to this area.”

As the construction and planning for Lava Cantina moves ahead, Avezzano will continue to handle music booking for Hat Tricks, and is also beginning to book shows for Stroker’s Ice House, the adored biker bar in Dallas. At this time, Lava Cantina will look to feature between 20 and 30 large ticketed shows from national touring artists, along with many more nights featuring live music on a smaller indoor stage with a 500-person capacity. Avezzano is confident the region can support another venue of its size, but he knows the competition is beyond stiff.

Vaughn throws down some population-focused logic when explaining why he sees the North Texas music scene as a more open equation than some might think. “There are 6.5 million people in this area,” he says. “I know that places like The Bomb Factory and the Granada offer people an experience that’s unique to their establishment, and I’m a big fan of those places personally, but that’s a lot of people we can all go after. I am sure Lava Cantina will provide a really unique experience that can’t be had anywhere else also, so enough of that 6.5 million will want to come to us.”

With a projected opening of late October or early November, Vaughn, Avezzano and other key members of the opening team including former Sundown at Granada chef Patrick Stark, who will handle the restaurant’s Creole/Mexican fusion menu, don’t have time to worry about much beyond making their presence known as soon as possible. According to Vaughn, who admits to having an “obsession with going to concerts,” as well as being a metalhead who would book German metal giants Rammstein for the grand opening if he could, there will be many features aside from a great location that will lure patrons north.

“Our main concert area will be outdoors, but have a retractable roof so that it will remain comfortable in different types of weather,” he says. “Also, that space will be a multi-level area where no one will be more than 100 feet from the stage so that it’s large but still intimate.”

The second stage inside will likely host a regular schedule of local acts, school of rock showcases, jazz brunches and even some celebrity chef demos. Such entertainment diversity will be a big part of the identity Vaughn hopes to galvanize as Lava Cantina goes from shiny newcomer to established veteran.

“Being first to market gives us an advantage,” Vaughn says. “We can create our own brand and build a unique message. We will be one of the Dallas area’s premium destinations for live music.”

View the original article at Dallas Observer.

Austin Ranch to see further business growth, new pub coming to The Colony

Lorelei Day | | The Colony Courier-Leader

The Colony Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) discussed various items on Tuesday regarding the expansion and improvement of the city’s retail and residential developments.

Among noteworthy votes were the approval of additional land uses in Austin Ranch, approval for The Thirsty Growler pub to add a location and further building requirements for the Gateway District.

Austin Ranch

The board will recommend to the City Council text amendments that will add certain land uses to the Austin Ranch development. If approved, a health studio, photography studio, private recreation club or area, art or dance studio and a dog park will be allowed to occupy the area.

Austin Ranch contains commercial, office, mixed-use and single-family and multi-family homes. Planning Director Mike Joyce said Austin Ranch has seen significant growth over the past year due to Grandscape’s expansion, which includes Nebraska Furniture Mart, Hard Eight BBQ, Rock & Brews, Mi Cocina, Lava Cantina and many other attractions.

“It’s [Austin Ranch] one of the new and happening places in the city,” senior planner Surupa Sen said. “We look forward to developing it and having it as part of The Colony.”

The Thirsty Growler

A recommendation was made to the council to approve a Special Use Permit (SUP) for The Thirsty Growler.

“The Thirsty Growler [located within the Village at 121 shopping center] will sell a variety of craft beer, cider and kombucha for on-site consumption and to-go containers,” Sen said.

Star Liquor is located within 1,000 feet of the proposed location for The Thirsty Growler. Although it has been closed since 2012, Star Liquor’s SUP still remains active. Under city law, The Thirsty Growler cannot legally obtain its SUP until Star Liquor’s permit is revoked. The city has reached out to the previous owners and does not anticipate any problems with that course of action.

The council will now have to approve the commission’s suggestion to change the law that prevents any business that estimates 75 percent or more of its income from alcohol sales to be located within 1,000 feet of another similar facility to 300 feet.

If the amendment to the law passes, The Thirsty Growler will be able to obtain its SUP and move in to the Village at 121 shopping center.

Gateway District

Commissioners approved an ordinance revision to the Gateway District, the area within the S.H. 121 and Main Street corridors.

The revision will allow for retail, commercial and office developments at the South Colony Boulevard, Paige Boulevard and the southwest corner of Kisor Drive and Paige Blvd to be in compliance with the “enhanced development standards” that were modified in 2013.

The regulations for this area include:

Site design, landscaping, building design, public areas, pedestrian and bike standards, fences and service areas.

View original article at The Colony Courier-Leader.