Teresa GubbinsBars with fun and games have been a thing around Dallas-Fort Worth since 2008, when Barcadia brought its giant Jenga to Henderson Avenue. Now a new Uptown Dallas bar is taking it to the next level. The appropriately named Playground Bar will open at 2908 McKinney Ave., in the former Next Door space, with a relaxed atmosphere that doesn’t try too hard.
The founders are two veteran bartenders who both worked at Henderson Avenue bars: Kyle McClard, who most recently worked at Saint Ann Restaurant and Bar, and Lidia Jovel, who worked at Henderson Avenue Tap House. They’re collaborating with One Entertainment Group, owners of Avenu Lounge and Landmark Bar and Kitchen.
“We just want a chill spot on McKinney Avenue, something that’s laidback and not super expensive, like some of the other bars in the area,” Jovel says.
The bar program will go back to basics, with six draft beers and two cocktails on tap. “We want to keep things simple, not too crafty,” she says. “It’ll be the stuff that takes you back to when you were in college, before we got all complicated.”
They’ll also do some food, namely tacos. “We’ll have late-night street tacos, with a taco window on the side of the building so that you can come up and get a taco at 3 am,” she says.
That space at 2908 McKinney Ave. hasn’t had it easy. Following failed tenants such as Pozo Mercado and Three Sheets, Next Door opened there in 2015 with similar intentions as a relaxed spot, although as a gastropub with a greater focus on food, including a brunch it added in early 2017.
But Next Door was restricted by the fire marshal from using the second floor and the owners shut it down in June.
The Playground, which opens in August, will feature arcade games on the second floor, with more options on the patio, including picnic tables painted with games.
“We’ll have swings out front instead of bar stools,” Jovel says. “We’ll paint the tables with patterns for checkers and tic tac toe.”
They’ll also make use of a ramp on the front patio. “The bar came with a ramp that goes up to the front door, so we’re going to paint it with a template for hopscotch,” she says. “We just want to have a fun vibe.”