The Bubble Lounge

Martinis & Memories with Mr. Gene Dunston, founder of Dunston's Steak House

February 01, 2024 Martha Jackson & Nellie Sciutto Season 7 Episode 5
Martinis & Memories with Mr. Gene Dunston, founder of Dunston's Steak House
The Bubble Lounge
More Info
The Bubble Lounge
Martinis & Memories with Mr. Gene Dunston, founder of Dunston's Steak House
Feb 01, 2024 Season 7 Episode 5
Martha Jackson & Nellie Sciutto

Step back in time with us as we step into the world of Gene Dunston, the visionary founder of Dallas' iconic Dunston's Steakhouse, serving sizzling steaks since 1955. In this episode of The Bubble Lounge podcast, we take you on a journey to a place where nostalgia meets culinary excellence, and where timeless charm has attracted not only longtime loyal patrons but also a new generation of diners in search of a genuine vintage dining experience.

Picture yourself in the heart of Dallas, where Dunston's Steakhouse exudes an old-world charm that's so inviting, that on any given night, you'll find a diverse crowd at Dunston's – from lifelong patrons who have been savoring its delectable dishes for decades to families enjoying their meals alongside young diners who are discovering the magic of this authentic time capsule.

Steakhouses in Dallas have evolved into opulent, high-end establishments over the years, but Dunston's Steakhouse has remained true to its roots. With a menu that offers prime and choice grade cuts of beef, succulent pork chops, and mouthwatering fish, all cooked over a hickory-fired wood pit, the aroma alone will transport you to cherished memories of campfires and cozy gatherings. 

Join us in this episode as we sit down with Gene Dunston and dive into the history, flavors, and enduring legacy of Dunston's Steakhouse, a true Dallas institution. Whether you're a lifelong fan or a newcomer eager to explore the charm of a bygone era, this conversation is sure to tantalize your taste buds and stir fond memories of classic dining experiences.

The Dunston family, with their enduring commitment to the Park Cities community, holds a special place in the hearts of locals. They've supported HPISD and the Park Cites Community through various means, from auction donations to hosting school gatherings, parent parties and have provided a cherished space for the community to come together.

To discover more about Dunston's Steakhouse and plan your visit to one of their two locations, head to their website at https://dunstonssteakhouse.com/ or follow them on Instagram @dunstons_steakhouse. 

This episode sponsored by Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons. To learn more about our sponsors visit Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Step back in time with us as we step into the world of Gene Dunston, the visionary founder of Dallas' iconic Dunston's Steakhouse, serving sizzling steaks since 1955. In this episode of The Bubble Lounge podcast, we take you on a journey to a place where nostalgia meets culinary excellence, and where timeless charm has attracted not only longtime loyal patrons but also a new generation of diners in search of a genuine vintage dining experience.

Picture yourself in the heart of Dallas, where Dunston's Steakhouse exudes an old-world charm that's so inviting, that on any given night, you'll find a diverse crowd at Dunston's – from lifelong patrons who have been savoring its delectable dishes for decades to families enjoying their meals alongside young diners who are discovering the magic of this authentic time capsule.

Steakhouses in Dallas have evolved into opulent, high-end establishments over the years, but Dunston's Steakhouse has remained true to its roots. With a menu that offers prime and choice grade cuts of beef, succulent pork chops, and mouthwatering fish, all cooked over a hickory-fired wood pit, the aroma alone will transport you to cherished memories of campfires and cozy gatherings. 

Join us in this episode as we sit down with Gene Dunston and dive into the history, flavors, and enduring legacy of Dunston's Steakhouse, a true Dallas institution. Whether you're a lifelong fan or a newcomer eager to explore the charm of a bygone era, this conversation is sure to tantalize your taste buds and stir fond memories of classic dining experiences.

The Dunston family, with their enduring commitment to the Park Cities community, holds a special place in the hearts of locals. They've supported HPISD and the Park Cites Community through various means, from auction donations to hosting school gatherings, parent parties and have provided a cherished space for the community to come together.

To discover more about Dunston's Steakhouse and plan your visit to one of their two locations, head to their website at https://dunstonssteakhouse.com/ or follow them on Instagram @dunstons_steakhouse. 

This episode sponsored by Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons. To learn more about our sponsors visit Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons

Speaker 1:

This episode sponsored by Stuart Arango, oral Surgery Learn more at SAOralsurgeonscom. And Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency Learn more at KathyLWALLcom. Welcome to the Bubble Lounge. I'm Martha Jackson and I'm Nellie Shudeau, and we have a really exciting episode today. I cannot wait for you guys to meet our guest. We do, and he is.

Speaker 2:

Mr Dunstan Of Dunstan Steakhouse, Exactly which is such an iconic place here in Dallas?

Speaker 1:

It really is. I mean, there's two locations which a lot of people, I don't think, know. There's one on Harry Hines, but the one on Lovers Lane, I think, is where people tend to go that live around here, and I was in there with a friend not too long ago and of course he was there. He came over and talked to us and it was just like a history lesson of Dallas and I thought we got to have this guy on the show.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and he's charming, he's fun. He's 94, but you would think he was 70. He says he's 39.

Speaker 1:

He's about to celebrate a big birthday and what we thought was interesting, as University Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, so if you think about it, he's been here almost as long as the city.

Speaker 2:

Well, and you might just find out today where Texas Toast came from.

Speaker 1:

He's got a lot of claims to fame, which I love, and make sure you stay tuned to the end of the show because he is going to reveal who the most famous person who ever came in to Dunstins is. Hey, friends, if you love this episode or you're a fan of the Bubble Lounge podcast, follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Just tap the Follow button at the top of the screen if you're a fan of the Bubble Lounge. And, even better, send me a text message with the word bubble to 469-757-2500. Just open your messages, type in my number, 469-757-2500, with the message bubble. Once you send me a text, I will add you to our list and send you a text message whenever a new episode is published. So follow us on Apple Podcasts and make sure to send me a text so you'll never miss an episode.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the show, Mr Dunstin. It's great to have you on. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Well, I hear that you have a birthday coming up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'll be 39 again. There you go. I stick to the same, by the way.

Speaker 2:

I used to say 29.

Speaker 3:

So Well, I know I was 10 years old, aren't?

Speaker 2:

you Exactly? Oh, maybe eight, nine, something like that. Well, gosh, you're such an icon here in Dallas. Tell us a little bit about how you worked your way from Alabama to Dallas.

Speaker 3:

My mom and dad divorced when I was 14 years old. Mom remarried. They wanted to leave Alabama. One said I'd like to go to Miami, the other said I'd like to go to Dallas. I said we'll just flip a coin. Heads of Dallas, tails of Miami came up heads. So I came here when I was 15, got a job washing dishes.

Speaker 3:

Downtown Dallas is a top of hamburger stands, $15 a week on the graveyard shift. And I worked there for one year and my mom and stepdad had gone to work at a restaurant called the Silver Castle on Oklahoma Avenue. The night manager, the night marked counterperson that worked the graveyard shift quick. So mom said well, my son might be interested in that job. I wound up on the graveyard shift again, but I'm making $40 a week now, plus tips so, and I worked there for six years and the guy sold the restaurant. I didn't like the new owner. So a friend of mine owned a parking lot downtown, all right parking systems. So I went to work for him across from the trailways bus station and I'd been there about six months and the guy drove up in a Cadillac with a cigar in his mouth. He looked like the mafia.

Speaker 2:

He said I'm looking for.

Speaker 3:

Gene Dustin. I thought, well, I guess he's gonna kill me. He said I don't say you a restaurant. I pulled out my bill for old and I had $40. I said I'll give you $40 for it. He said I'm serious. He said I got somebody to finance it. Yeah, I'd worked there six years. Somebody told us that if there's one person that could make a goal of this restaurant it'd be Gene Dustin. So he looked me up and the guy had the jukebox and cigarette machine, loaned me the money to just to lease it. I was there for two years. Of course it went broke three times the first year.

Speaker 2:

That's the restaurant business.

Speaker 1:

Some downs. So, what was it about your graveyard shifts that enticed you to want to be in the restaurant business?

Speaker 3:

Well, the shift didn't matter as long as I got a check. You know what I mean. But you know, I was a little town called Oxford, alabama, and I quit school in ninth grade. My mother had a restaurant in Alabama and all of a sudden that's all I knew. So I said I better make the best of this because I don't know anything else.

Speaker 2:

Well, so your parents were in the restaurant industry as well.

Speaker 3:

My mother was yeah, so it's in your blood In Alabama, in Alabama, that's right.

Speaker 2:

Well, I always love restaurants. I always say to people I only worked in a restaurant once in New York City and it was one of my favorite jobs. There's something about a restaurant to me that is because I'm an actor. It's like setting the stage. It's like I like backstage before the people arrive. It feels like you're backstage at a theater. You know you're setting up the napkins and the table, and I feel the same way when I have a party. I like the idea of setting a stage.

Speaker 3:

Do you feel like that? Oh, yeah, yeah, making people happy, you know mm-hmm. Just like it, lover laying. You look around and it's full of people and they're all happy. You know, all of a sudden you think it was, it's all worthwhile, mm-hmm, you know.

Speaker 1:

Well, what led you to open Dunstons in 1955?

Speaker 3:

Okay they. I was at Silver Castle two years. I only had a two-year lease and the guy told me, made it to Silver Castle, call me, said Jen. I found you. Another restaurant called a wheeling restaurant, that on Harry Hans Boulevard went out. The lady had sold beer to miners for four different times and they took her beer license. So, boy, she was sitting there dead in the water without beer. So I called a jukebox man. I said I need some more money. So he loaned me the money to lease that place, at least it for 350 a month. It would include land, building and equipment. Basically I Bought the equipment from her. The landlord lived in New York. I kept paying him 200 a month and he was a gay guy. He didn't have a family. So every time my wife would send him a check, she would tell him a story about what was going on and so forth. They became pen pals. When he came to Dallas we'd take him out to dinner. And Long story short, when he died he left us the property he willed it to us.

Speaker 3:

Oh wow, that's a really amazing story, yeah of course the wheeling was With car hops curb service. You know you got a small dining room but back 50s, 60s curb was a big deal. You know we dressed the car huffs up like they Killgold Ranger is, with short skirts and boots. We were causing traffic jams on here. I.

Speaker 1:

Think that's something that we need to bring back. I think so too. The car hops. Yes, oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's like Sonic kind of, does that?

Speaker 3:

they do the outdoor service, but they need to put girls in short skirt son roller skates or something. I think one left is killer drive-in. They're still have the car hops.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 3:

They have a couple places.

Speaker 2:

But when you have a car hop, you can't have liquor right, you can now, can you? Okay, Well we are in Texas.

Speaker 3:

Of course most people right beer, but now you know, so that's a COVID. You didn't even serve Margarita to go and everything you know that's the best thing that came out of coven.

Speaker 1:

That's true, that's true, I didn't even think about that, and we'll continue the interview after this short break. Finding an oral surgeon is hard enough for yourself, and when it comes to your kids, it can feel impossible. We suggest our friends at Stuart and a Rango because, from emergencies to wisdom teeth and everything in between, they have you covered. Stuart and a Rango are board certified with MDs who specialize in full-scope oral, facial and implant surgeries for both children and adults. Not only is their office state-of-the-art, they lead the industry with the most advanced techniques and procedures and when it comes to safety, they are pediatric and adult advanced life support certified and use a three-day local anesthesia which keeps you comfortable by limiting the use of opioids. Best part is they're conveniently located at Northwest Highway and Hillcrest Avenue. So if you want the best of big D caliber oral care, come see the friendly staff at Stuart and a Rango to learn more about them or book your appointment. Visit SA oral surgeons comm. That's SA oral surgeons, comm. Hey Park.

Speaker 1:

Cities, families we all feel that pinch of rising home insurance, don't we? But there is a solution and it's closer than you think. Meet Kathy all all state farm agency. She's not just our trusted show sponsor, she's also the expert you need to navigate these unpredictable insurance waters. Why get lost in the maze of policies and rates? Kathy has a knack for simplifying at all. Call two and four, three, five, zero, two, six, nine two are stopped by Kathy L wall comm to schedule a meeting. She's ready to review your homeowner policy and pinpoint where you could be saving more money. Right now, we trust Kathy wholeheartedly and once you chat with her, you'll see why. It's not just about rates. It's about trust, expertise and peace of mind. So don't let rising homeowner insurance cost catch you off guard. Contact Kathy L wall state farm agency now at two and four, three, five, zero, two, six, nine two, or visit Kathy L wall comm. With Kathy L wall on your side, you'll have an agent you can trust and help secure your family's future.

Speaker 2:

So how did it become Dunstance? How did like? How did that happen?

Speaker 3:

Okay, I the wheel in. I had built on to it a couple times and and I made a steakhouse. I still had the car hops but I had a steak but we would use in gas grill, you know, the cooker steaks and my wife and I would go to Kirby's Steakhouse on Greenville Avenue and he would always be packed, no matter what night you were there. And I told my wife, I said we going in the steak business. So that's when we started the steaks. And Later on my brother and I bought a little airplane and I had a friend that lived in Tucson, arizona, and I went out to Visit him and he took me out to dinner. That's when I discovered the Mesquite pits pinnacle Peaks steakhouse in Tucson.

Speaker 3:

Now I was fascinated by big open grills over Mesquite wood. Now ask the owner if I could copy his pet and he said yeah, you're a thousand miles from me, I don't care. Came back to Dallas. I got an engineer and took him to Tucson and he drew the, took pictures and drew the pit up and I came back and put a pit in the middle of the dining room. It's the place on where he hides. I had the first Mesquite pit in Texas and, boy With no just word of mouth for business, picked up 400%, you know.

Speaker 2:

Wow, well, also just the idea. It's kind of like a show. There's something about seeing it. You know this whole idea of open kitchens and seeing what's going on and seeing your food being made.

Speaker 3:

But I had to be on another dining room. Been discussed the good. Then I drove by Lover's Lane one day and that was a couple years later, and there was police sign on it. So I thought well, you know, I might look at it. So John Nott on a Dallas cowboy had been there and he had a barbecue place. They said he had a manager that he'd go to bank with 10,000. But the time he got to banking only had 5,000. So that's what he did in the last but 11 months. So I wound up at least in Lover's Lane.

Speaker 1:

You've been there ever since right, that was 1969.

Speaker 3:

Oh, wow yeah.

Speaker 2:

I have to ask you a question Is Johnny's barbecue located near you, or was it at some time?

Speaker 3:

Uh-huh Okay.

Speaker 2:

I say that because I was out with a good friend of mine.

Speaker 3:

That was years ago.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was out with a good friend of mine and it turns out her mother and stepfather owned that place and they knew you and she sent me this picture of them. I don't know if you know them, but she sent me the picture and said they used to know you well, yeah, I looked like they're familiar. Yeah, because they were down the street. I just thought that was interesting. Your name came up and she was like oh, my parents owned.

Speaker 3:

Johnny's yeah, johnny's barbecue. Yeah yeah, and he was a plumber too.

Speaker 2:

He and I were good friends, yeah, but Anyway, I thought it was funny to see the picture, like during those days, you know, yeah, that's a car lot now. Really Okay, yeah, wow.

Speaker 1:

Well, I remember when you and I were talking at Dunstons one time we were talking about the salad bar and just how that came about, and I think that that's such a great story.

Speaker 3:

Well, you can thank Stake and Ale for that.

Speaker 1:

Exactly.

Speaker 3:

Oh, what happened? I'd been there five years and didn't have a salad bar, Stake and Ale opened around the corner and I wouldn't see my customers for a while. I said who are y'all being?

Speaker 1:

They said well, you know, stake and Ale has a salad bar.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I said, well, I'll fix that. So I put in a salad bar. Stake and Ale's gone, I still got a salad bar.

Speaker 1:

I just think that's so brilliant because I think we would all eat a lot more salad if we had a salad bar in our own home. It's true.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know, but you've made it so easy. You've got all the ingredients right there, so it's still a big draw to this day to come in.

Speaker 3:

Far as I know, right now I know we have the only steakhouse that has a salad bar. I don't know another salad bar.

Speaker 2:

I think you're right. I don't. I can't think of a place with a salad bar. Yeah, and.

Speaker 3:

I want to keep it that way.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. I have a question for you, so you know. Just moving on to liquor for a minute, Is there like a specialty cocktail that you all serve? That's your favorite?

Speaker 3:

Oh, we have several different cocktail, but the martinis are really famous there because they shake it, give you martini and you have enough left in a shaker for another one. Oh, that's nice. So you get two for one. Two for one there, so it's really popular.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I love that.

Speaker 1:

Right. Well, I don't know what you guys do differently, and I have a feeling that your daughter-in-law, anna, over there, had something to do with this, but your ranch waters something about the way they're mixed tastes better than any other restaurant I go to in town.

Speaker 3:

The what.

Speaker 1:

The ranch waters. Maybe it's real ranch water Do you actually put ranch water.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's just, it's just. This year. We can make them believe that that's fine. Yeah, exactly Something about.

Speaker 1:

it's better, but it's so good. Well, so I heard that you are the founder of Texas Toast. Is that correct? That's right and that's been around for a while. That's a huge deal.

Speaker 3:

When I had the Silver Castle, you know my first restaurant. We opened 24 hours and breakfast was a big deal. Actually I had a cook work and work for me and he said you know, I got an idea. Why don't we buy some toast unslized and serve stick bread? And I said, fine, so we tried it. And boy, it caught on. And people, other restaurant people, came just to see it. And finally Goldman Bacon Company was in Oak Cliff. I was buying bread from him and the owner came out and he said I just wonder why in the hell that somebody's buying bread unslized. He said that's never happened. He said I just wanted to see what you were doing with it. And finally he brought me a little box had slits in it. I could put the bread in it, slice it Would it all be the same size. Oh, that's perfect, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And then eventually, he put in a slice of machines.

Speaker 3:

That was bigger. That was well. People started ordering it. He named it Texas toast. Oh, he's the guy who named it.

Speaker 2:

Interesting, yeah, we called it Chuck Wagon bread. I actually like that I like Chuck Wagon bread, but he got the idea for me, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, I know, working in the restaurant business and being in it as long as you have, you must have some really funny stories that you can share with us. A funny story.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, any crazy customers you like to laugh here at the bubble lounge.

Speaker 1:

One time there were two guys in there.

Speaker 3:

They were about drunk, it was at the wheeling the nurses don't hear how and they were pretty loud, you know, and I went over and I said, sir, y'all going to have to quieten down. He said hon, we're just talking. And I'm telling you that struck me so funny, I've never forgotten. So they were a couple it was a no to men oh yeah. But I just assumed they were a couple. He said hon we're just talking.

Speaker 2:

I couldn't get mad at them anymore.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly, they charmed the pants off you. You know you're like OK, whatever, they can stay.

Speaker 2:

Do you have a product or business you want to?

Speaker 1:

introduce to families in Highland Park. You know you're like OK, whatever they can stay, Then we want to work with you. With over a hundred and forty thousand listeners and more than two hundred episodes and a strong Instagram community, the bubble lounge podcast is the perfect way to connect with families in the park cities. Visit bubble lounge net to learn more.

Speaker 2:

Aside from your restaurant. You know you're, you know you were. What are you turning this year? What's your? How old are you gonna be this birthday?

Speaker 3:

93 okay.

Speaker 2:

So Obviously you look great and you're very young. What, like, tell us about what you do outside of the restaurant that keeps you young?

Speaker 3:

I Don't have any hobbies.

Speaker 2:

Work is my hobby really, but well, maybe it's a love of the work, right? Yeah, yeah, staying active and loving your job. I.

Speaker 1:

Really don't have any hobbies, well, you're extremely sociable and I've seen you at other restaurants as well and I think that that, you know, is interacting with the people, just does so much for anybody.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm. It's just good for the soul to get out and talk to To people and get to know new people well, I'm sure that's part of the secret of your success is the fact that you're so involved in the restaurant that you are. You're the face of the restaurant. You're there. People know you're gonna be there if they know where to find you.

Speaker 3:

You know that makes a difference. What about cuz said gene, you ever gonna retire? I said I got three reasons not to Tell my one like the money. No, the two don't matter.

Speaker 2:

I Love it when they ask me that yeah, I don't believe in retirement, so I'm I agree with you, unless you're starting a new business, a new job.

Speaker 1:

What do you feel like working in the restaurant business has taught you about Humankind? Because I feel like that you just learned so much about people while spending that much time at a restaurant.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you learn all kind of different people you know and Customers in different moods, but when they leave we try to make them happy. You know they might come in not feeling good and everything, but we try to make them feel good for the leave and. That way we built our business. We never did advertise very much.

Speaker 1:

I do think that that's something that's missing from a lot of current restaurants. Is there just kind of wanting to get you in and out and turn those tables over, and just? You know, it's all about the money. It's about the money for you too, but I love that you went to make your customers happy and I it really shows when you come in well, one thing how many restaurants you go in that today, this day in time, and see the owner? Exactly very chain restaurant.

Speaker 3:

You never see the owner.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there are group that owns the restaurant or something.

Speaker 3:

There's not many of us live yeah.

Speaker 1:

That definitely sets you apart.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's the restaurant I worked at in New York was a guy who was an ex model and he hired Actors and models that said her to work in this restaurant and he was there all the time and that I think that was the secret. It was called Jim Mcmullins, it was named after him and he was there every single night and that's what really drew people in was feeling like it was like their family hangout, exactly you know, because I bet you have a lot of regulars who come in, you know, several times a week.

Speaker 2:

Oh, we have a lot of people come every day.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you couldn't make it in the restaurant minutes without regular customers. Yeah, you know I'm getting new customers every day, so you got to have regular.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, it's packed every time I've ever been in there and you guys put in kind of a new addition a couple of years ago and you're using that back space that used to use for meetings for a new thing, right?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it used to be the banquet room, uh-huh, and now we made a little speakeasy. Now it's pretty neat.

Speaker 2:

It's really neat. I like that. That's the big trend, the speakeasy these days.

Speaker 3:

It was before, and now it's back again you know but and everyone's been there, tell people they. But we haven't advertised at all. It's just word of mouth.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a lot of fun, especially after sports games. You run into all the parents in there and what I like about it is it seems like most places in town have been taken over by the younger audience, and I like that.

Speaker 3:

People are in my age range, yeah we have young people in older and all ages. Uh-huh and everybody feels comfortable there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a lot of fun, and then you always have the games on too in there. That's right. Yeah, I think that was brilliant, and so when?

Speaker 2:

you? Uh, when you were growing up in Alabama, did you ever think you'd be a restaurant owner? Was this?

Speaker 3:

Something you ever thought about or just happened. I just tried to make one day at a time. Back then, my dad was a sharecropper.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

And you know we moved every. I went to a different school every year. Finally, I just gave it up.

Speaker 2:

School. You just gave up school.

Speaker 3:

Well, I went to California with my dad After mom divorced for six months.

Speaker 2:

And then.

Speaker 3:

but meanwhile mom moved to Dallas. So I came to Dallas from California. Okay, I lived in a tent in Los Angeles.

Speaker 2:

Did you really? Yeah, I came to Dallas from Los Angeles too, but I didn't live in a tent. I don't have as good of a story issue what happened.

Speaker 3:

We worked at a pipe shop. People were stealing the pipes, you know, because they were in this big yard. So the owner said if I go to Sears and buy y'all a big tent, we all consider moving in it. We were living in a hotel downtown. So yeah, we're gonna get free rent.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, we'll live in a tent. We'll live in a tent, why not we?

Speaker 3:

moved in a tent. My granddaughter went to USC and I would tell her that I want a few people that lived in a city limits LA in a tent. She loved that story.

Speaker 2:

Today that might not be so. You might not be the only person living in a tent. That's a little bit more of the norm now.

Speaker 1:

Well, Mr Nundson, you've obviously been in the Dallas area for quite some time and have met a ton of people. Tell us how things have changed since the beginning of time and up to now.

Speaker 3:

Okay, in 1969, when we opened the restaurant, the Inwood Shopping Center was all run down. It was 70% vacant. That area was pretty dead. Now I was losing money every month at the restaurant. Trample Crow bought the shopping center, completely remodeled it and brought it back to life.

Speaker 3:

But anyway, I won't tell a quick story about when I was losing money. I told my wife. I said it was taking everything Harry had made to keep it going. I said we don't sell this damn place. I am listening with a realtor. The guy came in and said I know a guy in Little Rock, arkansas, looking for a restaurant in Dallas. He gave me his name and everything and I called a plane, went to Little Rock and talked to him. He said yeah, and he said I'll come see you in two or three weeks. But he had always could eat chicken and always could eat fish and he had a big business. I waited three or four weeks and he never showed up. But I got an idea. So I put it all you could eat steak and always could eat kidfish. I read an ad in the newspaper and boy Bennett's picked up and I started making money and I took it off the market. But if that guy had a came Little Rock. Dustin probably wouldn't have been there, so it was fake.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I like that.

Speaker 3:

That was a smart changing up the business, you know, I'm sure that attracts, and Trample Crow had bought the shopping center and brought it back to life, and things got better.

Speaker 2:

Well, how did the you know? University Park is turning 100 this year, which is kind of interesting. So what other changes have you seen? Like I mean, do you? It doesn't all the real estate look new today? It does. To me, and I've only been here for like 10 years, it feels like there's a constant change.

Speaker 3:

For example, on Lovers Lane. All those little houses used to be there. Now they all businesses, law offices and different things. Nobody lives on Lovers Lane anymore. That's true, you know it's all businesses now, when I came there it was all small frame houses.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then going back for just a minute when you said the restaurant wasn't doing so well. One of the other things that helped business boom was the fact that some of the country clubs were closed on Mondays.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, the Dallas Country Club closed Mondays and they started coming to my place and they named it the Matching on Lovers Lane.

Speaker 1:

The Manson.

Speaker 3:

The Manson, I love it Because they used to go to the matching on Mondays, so they started coming to Dustin. They named it the Matching on Lovers Lane. Then one day the lady's on the match, and we said that's Ms Hunt and I went over and visited with her. I sat down and had a glass of wine with her. I said what are you doing here anyway? She said, well, I'd heard about the Dustin on Lovers Lane, I just had to come see it.

Speaker 1:

That's great.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm going to come in and see tonight. Are you going to be there tonight?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, her name was Caroline Hunt.

Speaker 2:

Okay, if you're going to be there, do you have any suggestions? I assume I'm going to have a steak and a salad bar.

Speaker 3:

Steak and salad bar and baked potatoes, whatever they want All right.

Speaker 1:

You can't go wrong with that.

Speaker 3:

Most of the ladies ordered the filet mignon, baked potatoes, salad bar and a martini.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I'm going to have to try that double martini.

Speaker 1:

There you go, you're like, so are you going to Lovers or?

Speaker 2:

to Harry Hines. Harry Hines.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, very nice.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're venturing out. All right, when are you going tonight, when 6.30.

Speaker 3:

You're going to Lovers Lane, aren't you?

Speaker 2:

No, the other one. Where are you going to be?

Speaker 3:

I'm going to be at Lovers Lane. Oh, then I'm going to have to switch it out.

Speaker 2:

You better relook. We'll switch it up for you. Yeah, we'll come to Lovers Lane.

Speaker 3:

I can relax at Lovers Lane, at Harry Hines, they put me to work. Oh, they do Okay.

Speaker 1:

I have yet to go to Harry Hines, so next time I am going to head that way. Yeah Well, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been such a treat just to hear you recount everything that's gone on in Dallas and just how the restaurant started and people you can go visit on Lovers Lane. Tell us the address.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. 5423 West Lovers Lane.

Speaker 2:

Well, and also just your passion for what you do makes it really, you know, attractive to everybody. Just your passion for life and for what you do makes me want to go to your restaurant.

Speaker 3:

All the time you didn't ask me. The most famous person there have been in my life, oh we didn't. Well, who is it? Ribba McIntyre.

Speaker 1:

Oh wow, that's impressive. I'll tell you a quick story.

Speaker 3:

Yes, please, she came in for lunch on Harry Hines. There was a gentleman and a lady with her and the hostess said does anybody ever tell you you look like Ribba McIntyre? She said, yeah, all the time she still didn't know it was her. She went to my wife and daughter in there and she says lady. I hear you look just like Ribba McIntyre and my wife went out and she said that is Ribba McIntyre. And we she took a picture with us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

She's going to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl?

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, yes, yeah, maybe that would be nice, maybe she'll come to your place after Exactly First day in Salad Barnard.

Speaker 3:

I asked her. I said what are you doing here anyway in Dustin? She said of course she flew in on her private jet and she said they looked it up at the near steakhouse of Lovefield and the one on Harry Hines came up.

Speaker 2:

That's a good claim to fame.

Speaker 1:

I know.

Speaker 2:

It really is. It's great. I had to see that picture.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you so much for being here today.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it's my pleasure. It's been a real privilege meeting you and getting to know you, and that's been another episode of the Bubble Lounge. I'm Nellie Shudeau.

Speaker 1:

And I'm Martha Jackson, and we'll catch you next time.

Interview With Dunstan of Dunstan Steakhouse
Cocktails, Texas Toast, Funny Stories
Restaurant Business Life and Success
Meeting Ribba McIntyre at a Restaurant