• The Grandscape development spans 433 acres along the Sam Rayburn Tollway (Texas 121) in The Colony.
• Anchoring the 3.9 million-square-foot mixed-use development is Nebraska Furniture Mart, with a 560,000-square-foot showroom and a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center.
• Nebraska Furniture Mart, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is the developer behind Grandscape.
• Phase one of Grandscape features retail stores, hotels, restaurants and recreation areas.
• Nebraska Furniture Mart opened in May; remaining parts of phase one are expected to open in 2015 and 2016.
By A. Lee Graham
Groupies and tasty grub may grab Gene Simmons’ attention, but what really turns the KISS frontman’s head are military veterans.
“Day one we open is not for you, it’s only for vets,” said Simmons, celebrating Rock & Brews’ next planned location in The Colony.
Famous for spitting blood, breathing fire and flicking his famously long tongue, the rock musician also has a serious side, which he exposed, albeit briefly, at the Sept. 21 groundbreaking.
“Without them [veterans], we’d be speaking another language,” said Simmons, who spoke no English when he and his mother moved to the United States from Israel. But he learned the language, founded one of the most successful rock bands in history and continues the winning streak with Rock & Brews, a rapidly expanding restaurant chain whose 14th planned location opens in mid-January on the southwest corner of Nebraska Furniture Mart Drive and Bargain Way along Texas 121.
Surrounded by fans and franchise teammates, Simmons shook hands, posed for photos and nodded at the mixed-use Grandscape development, which includes his 8,950-square-foot restaurant under construction.
Guests sampled barbecue sandwiches and other munchies beneath an open-air tent for the Sept. 21 event. Among the guests was David Golden, a Colony resident and military veteran whose service dog, Bella, came in handy.
“I had a mishap with my flag, but something dropped out of the sky,” said franchise partner Scott Paul.
That would be Bella, a Rottweiler draped with U.S. colors. Honoring Rock & Brews’ morning ritual of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Paul led the crowd in facing Bella’s flag and applauding Golden for bringing the dog.
“I came up here since I saw Gene on the local news,” Golden said. “My neighbor’s a Colony police officer and he hooked me up, let me in.”
Ever the salesman, Simmons distanced his latest endeavor from the Hard Rock Cafes of the world. He described the rock music-themed Rock & Brews as specializing in American comfort food, with each location sporting overhead trusses and concert lightning to mimick a live concert experience.
Simmons also made sure T-shirts and other restaurant merchandise are available for sale and that the menu is both traditional and cutting-edge.
“We’ll have gluten-free pizzas and gluten-free beers. And for all you guys who don’t [care], you’ll be able to chow down like the kings that you are. You may not feel like a rock star, but we’ll make you feel like a goddamn rock star,” Simmons told the crowd.
The restaurant will employ between 150 and 200 and is expected to open in mid-January, according to franchise partner Paul.
“We’re committed to do this, we’re committed to Dallas. We want to make this a special place for you and your family,” said Simmons.
Paul Stanley, KISS co-founder and Simmons’ Rock & Brews partner, is expected to attend grand opening ceremonies in January.
Mayor Joe McCourry considers The Colony the ideal location for Texas’ first Rock & Brews.
“The whole site at Grandscape is designed for unique items like Rock & Brews,” said McCourry.
“They had the wisdom to come out and build out here where people will come to shop at Nebraska Furniture Mart. You can’t beat the DFW market, right?”