Here’s a question for real estate professionals: Why is it that certain locations –– despite viable traffic data and appropriate, geo-targeted demographics –– end up spelling doom for whatever business sets up shop there? I’ve seriously wondered this my entire life, after noticing that the space on the corner of an inviting, multi-level, mix-retail center in my hometown had three tenants in four years.

I guess I’m curious because R.J. Gator’s, the bar and grill specializing in Floridian cuisine, has been open on that weird little bend of Trail Lake Drive that snakes under the train tracks and into Granbury Road. It was once a place called Hot Tub’s World Famous Bar and Grill, which was known to no one. Then it was Pop’s Burgers & Grill. Both places had decent-to-good food. Both had inviting patios. And both tanked. What’s the deal with that?

The renovations done to the space now occupied by R.J.’s (4413 Trail Lake Dr., 817-924-1983) appear to be mostly cosmetic, but the patio is still pretty cool. (It’s bordered in shaded booths and has some outdoor lounge-y seating around a couple of tile fountains.) I ate some buffalo chicken tenders, and they weren’t that great, and the short Miller Lites I had (in the afternoon, right before the lunch specials ended) were $4 apiece. I wasn’t stoked about that, but if I lived in Westcliff, Overton Park West, or even Wedgwood, I’d definitely hit up R.J.’s for patio drinks on summer evenings. Let’s hope they figure out a better price point and throw up a little more shade to help fend off the retail curse, because it seems like a prime spot for moms and dads to go for a beer while the kids gnaw on mozzarella sticks.–– Steve Steward



The Other Kind of Intoxicating Powder

A couple of weeks ago, while eating a pretty terrible French dip sandwich at the TGI Friday’s near the Virgin America gates at DFW airport, I tried to catalog the number of times I’ve been drunk on an airplane. I’m pretty sure it’s three or four, plus or minus five, and not because I don’t like drinking. No, no, no. It’s because I’m prone to nodding off immediately after the fasten-seatbelt sign goes out and also because I’m cheap. Getting drunk on $12 Bloody Marys at 35,000 feet is expensive and unnecessary. And forget about drinking beer. One time on a flight to Phoenix, my in-flight nap became a moot point multiple times because the suit in the window seat of my row broke the seal after his second Dos Equis and was up and down with floating molars for the rest of the flight.

In-flight mini-benders strayed onto my mental radar screen because the FDA recently reversed its own approval of a product called Palcohol; Palcohol, invented by populist wine critic Mark Phillips, is powdered liquor sold in a pouch and designed to be dumped in a glass of soda, cola, orange juice, water, Dr. Thunder, or whatever you’re making popsicles out of. You can also sprinkle it on food apparently, which makes me hope it goes well with buffalo wing sauce.

Obviously, powdered alcohol presents all kinds of problems. Most notable to me is the ease with which it would find its way into the punch bowl of every senior prom from here to the North Pole, not to mention everyone who gets a soft drink at the movies or one for the drive home. Because nobody wants a bunch of teenage Christmas elves (or teenage humans or adults who are stuck taking their kids to Spy Kids VII: Show Me the Money, for that matter) getting drunk illegally on powdered Lemon Drops, the FDA made a smart move. I’m sure its regulatory buddies in the FAA are probably grateful, because you can bet I’d pack my pockets full of Palcohol, ready to fly even friendlier skies.

As a bartender, thank Christ this shit is illegal! I don’t even care about what it would do to sales. Imagine some kid who buys a single drink at the bar to get started and then goes the rest of the night emptying powdered vodka in the waters he keeps bugging me for. It’s the kind of night that starts with some shithead putting one over on a bartender and ends with the bartender getting a call from lawyers on the next business day. I’m not a huge fan of government regulation, but thanks for coming to your senses, FDA. I’m perfectly happy to drink liquor in its liquid form, legally purchased, wrapped in a brown paper bag. –– S.S.

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  1. Even with demographics flourishing – my opinion is a retail business is just like a web page….there are a million of them out there. If there is no marketing to drive traffic to that page, it may be the coolest website on the planet no one knew about. Hence – Bob’s Burgers may have had amazing burgers but if no one that works there is a marketer at heart they are doomed.