After running for 86 years, Old Mill Inn will be having improvements to keep up with the modern pacing as OVG Hospitality has recently grabbed the opportunity to develop the renowned and classic restaurant according to a Dallas Morning News article from May 25 which reports,
“The 86-year-old restaurant is now in the hands of OVG Hospitality, the food and beverage arm of Oak View Group. Oak View has co-managed city-owned Fair Park since 2019, and they’ve designated about $1 million in improvements to the Old Mill Inn in an effort to revitalize it as a new dinner destination, says Brian Luallen, CEO of Fair Park First.
“The building is suited to be a year-round concept,” Luallen says. But the building needs a lot of work.
The hospitality group running the Old Mill Inn since early 2022 wants to “bring it into the 21st century,” says Julian Bowman, spokesman for OVG360, “while still keeping the beautiful charm and aesthetic to the outside.”
The restaurant always stood in sharp contrast to the art deco buildings erected at the same time in the 1930s. The Old Mill Inn is rustic, made of stone, while its neighboring buildings are sleek and geometric.
Luallen notes it’s “one of the only examples of the original novelty architecture of the park from 1936.”
According to another Dallas Morning News article from May 23, the Old Mill Inn had a long and interesting history as it grew with Fair Park Grounds back in ‘36. They say,
“The Old Mill Inn has been in operation on Fair Park grounds since 1936, but it was built as a replica of a mill from the 1800s, which means the style and spirit of the building make it feel like it’s over 150 years old. The building was initially used as a flour-mill attraction for Morton Milling Co. during the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, and visitors could get an educational look at the way it worked — a modernistic marvel at the time. Ida Chitwood, a celebrity chef long before that term was used, did cooking demonstrations. The Old Mill Inn closed during World War II and became an ice cream parlor, according to Dallas Morning News archives. In 1965, it served some of the city’s best fried chicken and biscuits as a Youngblood’s restaurant. It later became an El Chico.
The Old Mill Inn had most recently been operated by Ed Campbell, whose team served Southern food for nearly 25 years while it moonlighted as a mystery dinner theater spot. Campbell’s lease was up at the end of 2021, and the Old Mill Inn is temporarily closed.”
Luallen assured the public and especially preservationists that they will need not to worry about the building ever being taken down as they too, know how important the building is to Dallas.