Dallas loves a makeover. More than 200 people packed into Tillman’s Roadhouse on Tuesday for the restaurant’s private relaunch party.
The 25-year-old Bishop Arts institution celebrated the big changes that were announced last summer including a new ownership team, updated decor and a revamped menu backed by executive chef Michael Morabito, formerly of The Mansion on Turtle Creek .
An eclectic party
Guests at the new Tillman’s were greeted by Ross and Jeffery Kollinger, the restaurant’s new owners. The Kollingers enthusiastically bear-hugged many of the attendees.
The crowd at the party reflected the diverse network that the Kollingers cultivated through their various businesses, including the successful Spice of Life catering company. Dallas entrepreneurs, media personalities, and the Kollingers’ longtime clients mingled at the raucous party.
“We wanted to show our appreciation to our closest friends and family,” Jeffrey Kollinger said. “They share our enthusiasm for what we wanted to do with this space.”
A balancing act
Tillman’s new design reflects a delicate balance that the Kollingers wanted to strike between modernizing the restaurant and retaining longtime customers with something comforting and familiar. Renovations started at the end of September and the new owners kept the restaurant open throughout construction so that the changes weren’t too jarring for regulars.
The bulky chandeliers and deer mounts were removed from the main dining room and replaced with photos and simplified lighting. The kitchen was opened up and the previously underutilized patio area now serves as overflow space for a new bar.
Preserving Tillman’s legacy
One part of Tillman’s Roadhouse that hasn’t changed yet is the private dining room in the back of the restaurant.
“It was important that we kept some element from the original restaurant,” Jeffrey Kollinger said. “The private dining room is something that people love, and I wanted to keep that room as an iconic feature for now.”
The dining room lends an air of continuity between the remodeled Tillman’s and the long brunches that many patrons remember from years past.
“We wanted to show homage to chef Ricky Tillman and his wife, Sara,” Kollinger said.
An introduction to the neighborhood
The Kollingers hope that the redesign of Tillman’s Roadhouse will introduce them to the neighborhood and introduce Bishop Arts locals to each other.
The open layout and enlarged windows are designed to welcome new visitors into the restaurant. The less-formal decor, communal areas, and USB-equipped bar encourage guests to linger and interact with their neighbors.
“I love that I am getting to know the neighborhood, from residents to fellow shop owners,” Jeffery Kollinger said. “How lucky am I — that I was able to find such an icon of a restaurant and be part of Bishop Arts growth with Tillman’s 3.0?”