Ownership of the Bishop Arts restaurant changed hands in October, for the third time since originally opening in 2004. This time around, it’s a real family affair. Ben Bowen serves as the front man and bartender, while his mother, Kathy O’Toole, and her husband, Gregg Austin, keep the rest of the house in order.
“After 20 years of talking about running a restaurant, it was time to finally do something about it,” Kathy O’Toole explains about making the jump to owning a restaurant. Although Grill 4 Hundred is their first experience as owners, Bowen is a seasoned restaurant manager.
As of yet, new chef Jason Maddox hasn’t made any drastic changes to the menu (yes, you can still enjoy the Grill 4 Hundred salad and filet mignon), the crowds are certainly coming for the mix of food and ambiance that the new restaurant team has created. The group made significant upgrades to the kitchen and plans to expand the menu in the new year, including the addition of a Hoosier classic (paying homage to their Indiana roots). It’s a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich that Austin says is completely unique in Dallas. They have also upgraded and expanded the wine list.
But a transformation in décor makes the most noticeable difference to Grill 4 Hundred. Bowen describes the old interior as a sterile place, a little reminiscent of a school cafeteria. His goal was to give the restaurant a warm and comfortable atmosphere so they hired neighboring store-owner, Flip’s Kevin Brailsford, to oversee the restaurant’s design. Brailsford directed a new color for the exterior, a deep espresso, and a completely redesigned interior featuring turquoise, rich taupe and bright orange to complement the addition of gauzy white sheers. The result is a warm and inviting space, nicely dividing what was once a cool and a bit cavernous large front room.
“I don’t want people to feel rushed when they come to Grill 4 Hundred. I hope our guests will enjoy their time and relax. That’s the kind of atmosphere we’ve tried to create,” says Bowen.
The menu will continue to focus on taking good home cooking to the next level. The most popular dishes are often the daily specials, featuring a homestyle entrée as well as a meal-in-a-bowl option. Favorites include the pot roast, chicken and dumplings, and fried catfish entrées, and red beans, rice and andouille, and chicken and sausage gumbo as bowl options. Other stellar options include meatloaf on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with rosemary gravy and crispy onions, or seared Mahi tuna with an incredibly addictive peanut sauce.
When asked if he’s worried about increased competition by new restaurants slated for the old La Familia Market, Bowen is bullish. “Bishop Arts is working to create a scene, and in my opinion having more successful restaurants will only help bring more diners to this area. I feel confident that Grill 4 Hundred will thrive in this environment,” Bowen explains.
Finally, Bowen is a bit of a margarita master, with three signature flavors to offer the Oak Cliff crowd. Traditional lemon-lime, tart red raspberry and sweet strawberry each take margaritas to a new level in the Bishop Arts District. Cheers!