You'll be served: Tribal attorney opening home-style cafe in Dallas
By Danielle Frost
DALLAS -- Holly Partridge grew up immersed in the restaurant business, so it seems fitting that she is the new owner of a popular Dallas coffee shop and eatery at 156 S.E. Mill St.
Partridge, a Grand Ronde Tribal member, will open the Courtyard Café, formerly known as the Courtyard Coffeehouse, with her husband, Kelsey, and mother, Roni Shaw, in mid-September.
Holly also works full-time as a staff attorney for the Tribe. Her father, Wes Shaw, is a Grand Ronde Tribal Elder.
“I have been wanting to purchase a business since moving to Dallas three years ago,” Holly says. “My mom has owned three successful restaurants and I grew up with this, and waited tables at the last one she owned.”
To say Holly will be busy is likely an understatement, but she has family helping every step of the way. Her mother has trained Kelsey to be the head cook and also will assist with day-to-day restaurant operations.
During the remodel to turn the former coffee shop into a full-service restaurant, the couple’s four children, who range in age from 11 to 18, have spent several hours helping out.
“We have been paying them in ice cream and coffee,” Holly says. “It seems to be pretty popular.”
On a recent Sunday, Holly, her husband, parents, uncle and children spent 13 hours painting, scrubbing, re-upholstering and preparing the restaurant for its projected Saturday, Sept. 15, opening.
“Kelsey and I are spending seven days a week here,” Holly says. “I come in before work, after work and on my days off. My mom is also helping out talking to various distributors and doing training.”
The couple spied the restaurant for sale a few months back and knew it was a good fit.
“The location is just awesome,” Holly says. “I had seen it before because I have to go the Polk County Courthouse frequently for work, which is across the street.”
The couple helped the previous owner during Dallas’s Summerfest Celebration to see if it was something they would enjoy doing.
“We saw the potential for this business,” Holly says. “And the space is perfect.”
Kelsey is a retired Army veteran and has a background as a drill sergeant and heavy equipment operator. He is looking forward to shifting gears and immersing himself in the restaurant environment.
“I’ve always been family oriented so a family-run business is a good fit,” Kelsey says. “Plus I’m always up for a good challenge.”
The restaurant will feature home-style breakfast favorites such as omelets, chicken-fried steaks, cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, pancakes and waffles. A variety of burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads will be on the menu for lunch and dinner. Indian tacos and frybread, made from a family recipe, also will be served. Dessert offerings will include ice cream in handmade waffle cones, shakes and smoothies. There also will be a full espresso bar, as well as Keto and gluten-free food options.
“We will serve breakfast all day and it will mainly be comfort foods,” Holly says.
She adds that the community seems excited for the restaurant to open. Movie theater owner Jeff Mexico is giving them free advertising, Dallas Economic Development Director AJ Foscoli has helped guide them through the complicated permitting process and Mayor Brian Dalton has dropped in to say hello.
“We have two elderly brothers that come and sit outside with their coffee and ask when we will open,” Holly says. “People will stop by during the day to see what is going on and business owners have invited us to a networking breakfast.”
Currently, the couple is looking for a plumber to do the necessary work in the kitchen before the restaurant can open.
Kelsey says working with the various contractors has proven to be the biggest challenge of the couple’s restaurant venture.
“Trying to find people to fit into our timeline has been tough,” he says.
Holly says her biggest challenge has been sifting through all of the regulations that must be met before permits are issued.
“You are working with both Polk County and the city of Dallas, so there is a lot,” she said.
And their favorite aspect of starting a restaurant?
“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with family and actually seeing my kids during the summer,” Holly says.
“It’s always family for me,” Kelsey says.
Holly notes that her youngest son is typically shy, but is enjoying being in the restaurant and helping out.
“He is super excited,” she says.
With opening day two weeks away as of Smoke Signals’ Sept. 1 publication, the family is working tirelessly to get everything ready.
Tentative opening day plans for Saturday, Sept. 15, include an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting, cake and ice cream at 2 p.m. and a raffle drawing at 6 p.m. Prizes will include a new grill and gift cards. Tribal members, veterans and Tribal employees receive a 10-percent discount anytime they visit.
For more information about the restaurant, visit the “Courtyard Café” Facebook page.