It’s official! The District, the chef-driven dining complex at The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, Texas, has made its debut, with four restaurants commencing operations just a week after a gala sneak preview on October 4. The much-anticipated District is the latest step in the $130 million reinvention of The Shops at Willow Bend into a multi-use urban core, joining the grand opening of Crayola Experience at the project earlier this year and the 2017 debut of Plano Children’s Theater.
“Starwood had a vision for Willow Bend, and knew it was the perfect location to bring these chef-driven restaurants, plus additions like an Equinox fitness center, an upscale movie theatre, a Class-A Office building, Ascension Annex, Acai and Alchemy and more, all of which will be complete by next year,” said Jeff Zeigler, COO of Starwood Retail at the gala.
The ticketed cocktail reception featured musical performances by the Georgia Bridgewater Orchestra, appetizers from California Pizza Kitchen and bites from Knife, a steakhouse from James Beard-nominated chef and two-time Top Chef contestant John Tesar; Mexican Bar Co. Cocina from James Beard-featured chef Patricio Sandoval; Terra Mediterranean, from brothers Jalal Chanaa and Adam Shanaa; and Whistle Britches, offering southern comfort food from James Beard Foundation-nominated Chef Omar Flores. The evening concluded with Australian-style coffee from Ascension Annex and desserts from Neiman Marcus Mariposa.
“Plano is a city on the go – we move quickly, but we also like to slow down and appreciate a delicious meal with friends and family. These restaurants represent some of the best food you can get in North Texas,” said Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere at the preview, which raised more than $25,000 for the Junior League of Collin County.
The District was built on the site of a long-shuttered department store. When Starwood Retail Partners’ parent Starwood Capital Group acquired in 2014, the management company began assessing the best use for the property, and determined that expanding dining and entertainment options would best serve the growing Plano community.
“The rapidly growing number of families who live in Plano and all who work in North Dallas have been clamoring for more, and more varied dining options,” said Bryant Siragusa, vice president, national restaurant and entertainment leasing. “We’re proud to give them a collection of quality dining experiences close to home.”
The reimagining is the first renovation and expansion of The Shops at Willow Bend since its 2001 opening. Now under construction is an Equinox fitness center, offering branded programs such as strength and cardio training, studio classes, personal training, spa services and products, apparel, and food and juice bars. A Class A office building also is planned. Other highlights include a welcoming new grand entrance facing the Dallas North Tollway with valet drop-off and pickup; exterior amenities including dramatically enhanced lighting, fountains, comfortable soft seating and fire pits; and a full interior remodel that reflects a more contemporary aesthetic.