There was a time when driving around and around on “The Strip” in Denton was pretty much all there was to do. Friday nights were the best night of the week to drive up on University, get something to drink at Sonic and then zip around just to be seen, to flirt, and then maybe to go park in a vacant lot that is now filled with an Arby’s and a bank. Eventually the cops cracked down and it seemed that “The Strip” just sort of fizzled out, right along with Zima and acid washed jeans.
If you wanted to go to the movies we only had a couple of theaters and they weren’t stadium seating and when it came to dinner options you pretty much had Chili’s and Black-Eyed Pea. I remember when Grandy’s on University was one of the hottest places to grab lunch after church on Sunday with lines practically out the door. But like most things, time has a way of eroding the quality and eventually people moved on.
If you went to UNT you could always find something going on at the local bars on Fry Street. Cool Beans, Ricks, the Zebra’s Head, things were happening, but they weren’t always good. Rumors were always flying about that someone had gotten shot down there and I had a friend tell me that she saw someone get stabbed. I’m not sure if those were true or not, but when The Flying Tomato was torn down and they brought in a Chipotle and a bunch of new housing it seemed to class the area up a little bit. But still, where was a great place to hang out in Denton? Rubber Gloves? Dan’s Silver Leaf? Paschal Bar? Maybe. But there seemed to be something missing, what was there really to do in Denton with your family?
Eventually Industrial street got renovated right off the square and we got a Fuzzy’s and Rooster’s and a few loft apartment buildings. Eventually a Mellow Mushroom Pizza came to town and that area was Denton’s new hot spot. With the addition of the dart rail coming to the heart of the city other businesses opened their doors and we got LSA Burger and Barley and Board. With Beth Marie’s and Atomic Candy as well as the nearly iconic Recycled Books, the square started becoming a great place to hang out. Denton Main Street Association and the Chamber of Commerce have done a fantastic job of adding events like Twilight Tunes and Wassail Fest and with West Oak Coffee Bar and Dix Coney Island as well as Cartwright’s and The Loophole, there really is something for everyone.
But still, when you think of Denton, what do you think? Are we known for great art or great music? Do people drive here for the food? Do our colleges, while great, have any real local pride or national recognition? …Maybe?
At Denton Swag our goal is to show the rest of the world that Denton is great and we don’t need to have a definitive label that defines us. We are an eclectic mix of college students and techies, artists and musicians, and people that just generally enjoy people. Denton has a great chill vibe about it and right now it isn’t too big for it’s britches. It is growing fast, but with the expansion of the highway taking a while, I think it is growing at a nice pace.
My own vision for Denton? I hope that it will be a place that everyone feels welcome and loved and that it is a city where the people take pride in taking care of not only our streets and buildings, but also each other. We hope to create great products for people who love Denton and we also want to give back to this city and continue to make Denton like no place else.