Spiral Diner, a pioneering Dallas vegan restaurant, is closing in Oak Cliff. Here’s why

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Dallas vegan restaurant Spiral Diner is closing in Oak Cliff in August 2022.

“People are going to think we’re totally crazy,” says owner Amy McNutt, who opened the meat and dairy-free restaurant in Dallas nearly 15 years ago. Spiral Diner was selling comforting vegan food long before that most of her Today’s competitors are catching up.

In the so-called Cowtown, she’s been doing it for a long time: The Spiral Diner in Fort Worth opened 20 years ago this month and remains in operation.

The Spiral Diner is a purely vegan restaurant. The Dallas store (pictured here) is closing, but restaurants in Fort Worth and Denton remain open, and a new Spiral in Arlington is under construction.(Louis DeLuca / Staff Photographer)

McNutt says Dallas’ aging building on N. Beckley Avenue “needs more love than we can afford.”

“The landlords weren’t willing to pick us up where we needed to be,” says McNutt. And so, Dallas’ most well-known, long-standing vegan diner will close at the end of the week.

Restaurant employees will begin selling out items starting August 8, 2022 — dairy-free pastries, cashew-cheese nachos, meat-free burgers, and the like. 14th, 2022, but that depends on demand from the shop’s many customers.

Impact of Spiral Diner in North Texas

When McNutt started selling meatless groceries in Fort Worth in 2002, she was “young enough to just try and not bother,” she says. She didn’t know if it would work as there were no other vegan restaurants to compare her restaurant to.

She’s been vegan since she was a little girl, mostly because she’s “a wimp to animals,” she says.

The first Spiral Diner was created for busy people who chose an animal-free diet. The Dallas store followed the same model.

“We really wanted to sell all those comfort foods — the things that would always serve as an excuse,” she says. “As, I just really love ice cream or I just really love cheeseor I can’t imagine not eating breakfast. We wanted to recreate these things completely vegan. You don’t have to sacrifice taste to go vegan.”

Spiral Diner is closing in August 2022 after almost 15 years in business.  It was a pioneer...
Spiral Diner is closing in August 2022 after nearly 15 years in business. It was a pioneering vegan restaurant not only in Dallas but in all of Dallas-Fort Worth. The “burgers” offer plenty of meatless options: a cashew and quinoa patty; Beyond Burgers; or soy-wheat patties.(Kimberly Jurgens)

One of Dallas’ best-sellers is the Lumberjack, a breakfast item featuring biscuits and gravy, tofu scramble, and two “sausage” patties, all vegan. The Nacho Supremo is another popular order. Packed with dairy-free cheese, black beans, quinoa, olives, guacamole, and more, it’s easy to forget that these nachos might have beef or chicken at another restaurant.

Spiral Diner has restaurants in Fort Worth and Denton that remain open. But the Dallas restaurant’s closure leaves a plant-based hole in the area’s largest city, even as many other vegan restaurants have opened during Spiral’s 15-year history.

“What I will miss is the connection that customers and employees have made with this place,” says CEO Samantha Ofeno.

“It’s people’s safe space,” adds McNutt.

3 new vegan restaurants will follow shortly

As the Dallas restaurant closes, Spiral Diner management is quickly planning three new restaurants — two in Fort Worth and one in Arlington.

Maiden, a high-end vegan restaurant

In Fort Worth’s PS1200 development, McNutt and her team plan to open the city’s first gourmet vegan restaurant. Dubbed Maiden: Fine Plants and Spirits, the restaurant offers a six- to eight-course seasonal tasting menu designed to showcase the creative dishes that can be prepared without meat or dairy.

Maiden will “serve the stuff that we couldn’t do at Spiral,” says McNutt. “Spiral is fast and soothing. It’s the exact opposite where we can slow things down, put things on the plate really nicely.”

The move wasn’t inspired by high-profile restaurants like New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, which have gone vegan during the pandemic, but such a move helped calm McNutt.

“Even these super successful chefs are making this transition, and it doesn’t have to be scary,” she says. “That was really reassuring.”

Maiden is expected to open in early 2023 at 1200 Sixth Ave., Fort Worth, near Fort Worth’s existing Spiral Diner.

Dreamboat Donuts and Scoops, a small dessert shop

In the same development as Maiden, the company will open a vegan donut and ice cream shop called Dreamboat. It’s smaller than almost every restaurant we’ve written about: less than 400 square meters.

Spiral Diner sells a variety of vegan cakes, including classic vanilla.  It's coming soon...
Spiral Diner sells a variety of vegan cakes, including classic vanilla. Upcoming sister restaurant, Dreamboat, will sell donuts and ice cream in Fort Worth.(Featured Post / Mike Stone)

The vegan donuts are made in a Fort Worth production kitchen, making the small space more forgiving.

Also on the menu are the popular non-dairy ice creams that have been made for Spiral Diner over the years.

Ice cream is a no-brainer to make vegan, says McNutt. They use soy-based milk and occasionally coconut milk with cashews as egg substitutes. For the donuts, substitute baking powder for eggs.

“It just takes a little tinkering,” says McNutt.

Dreamboat Donuts and Scoops is expected to open in early 2023 at 1200 Sixth Ave., Fort Worth, adjacent to Maiden and near Spiral Diner.

Spiral Diner #3 in Arlington

The team will also open a new Spiral Diner on E. Front Street in Arlington’s growing Urban Union neighborhood. It will serve a similar menu to existing Spiral Diners.

The Spiral Diner is expected to open in 2023 on E. Front St., Arlington.

A future for vegan food in Dallas-Fort Worth

While some vegan restaurants like Project Pollo prefer not to use the “v” word and instead lean toward “plant-based,” McNutt says their restaurants pride themselves on being vegan.

“We call it from the mountaintops,” she says.

She will continue to look for additional Spiral Diner locations — including in Dallas — and expects Dreamboat to expand if it proves successful in Fort Worth.

“Continuous growth is our speed,” says McNutt. “Our biggest goal is to keep it where it never loses the culture that we’ve built over 20 years.”

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblakovich.

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