It was billed as a construction launch open house for Phoenicia Specialty Foods, but Wednesday night's crush at One Park Place felt more like a rugby scrum. No one's fault really. Other than that of Mother Nature, who spewed rain all over the downtown high-rise pool terrace where the party was supposed to have been held.
Could all 400 guests really have arrived so early that by 6:45 p.m. the three-deep line of folks angling for the indoor buffet table serpentined through the elevator lobby and well into the building's party room? It seems that everyone was over-the-top excited about sampling the food store's enticing international fare.
Even when the buffet tables were moved out into the misty night, the hungry persevered. No dewey drops would spoil the quest for stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, hummus, cheeses, veggies and flatbreads. Desserts were served on buffet tables indoors where guest could wade through beer tastings and elbow up to the bar for serious libations.
The Phoenicia's new downtown location on the ground floor of One Park Place won't open until March or April, according to owner Bob Tcholakian. But clearly the pent-up desire for his merchandise is already percolating.
The 28,000 square-foot store will be accessed from McKinney and from Austin. It was a change from Tcholakian's original plan for growth. "I was thinking about expanding, maybe doing a restaurant on Washington or on Kirby," he said.
But then One Park Place owner Marvy Finger approached him and suggested a downtown location. "I thought it was very, very interesting," Tchloakian said.
Among those checking out the Phoenicia possibilities were soon-to-be One Park Place resident John Poindexter plus Elaine Finger, Dede and Connie Weil, Jane and Milton Howe, Doreen and Frank Herzog and Dr. Fabian Worthing.