Pitmaster Justin Fourton holds the infamous Slim Pickins sign given to the last person in line at Pecan Lodge.
(Photo@Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

There's a follow-up to our earlier item on the strange behavior of the new owners of the Dallas Farmers Market as they try, supposedly, to work out a deal to keep Pecan Lodge at the market.

Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News reports that on Friday – the day our item appeared – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings stopped by Pecan Lodge for lunch and a chat with owner/pitmaster Justin Fourton.
Afterward, Rawlings made his position clear:
While he can’t control what the Farmers Market does -- earlier this year, the city sold the downtown landmark to private developers -- he’ll do whatever he can to make sure Pecan Lodge remains somewhere in Dallas.
“Let me say, as the mayor of Dallas and a big fan of Pecan Lodge, we’re not going to lose them to a different city,” the mayor told Wilonsky.

The city’s BBQ-Fan-In-Chief went on:
“It’s paramount that we as citizens and the city put our arms around a Dallas resident owning a Dallas restaurant for Dallas citizen and keep them in Dallas. That's my first belief. Second, I am very confident that Dallas developers see the wisdom of the traffic Pecan Lodge generates to make their development wherever it might be successful.”
Rawlings said he's asked Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans “to meet with Pecan Lodge and make sure that we are doing everything in our power to make it an easy decision for Justin to stay in Dallas. The Farmers Market will be a wonderful development, and if they get married, hip-hip-hooray. On the other hand, if there’s another place in Dallas where he’ll be just as happy, I want to make sure he’s successful there as well.”
Translation: I hope the new owners of the Farmers Market can come to terms with Justin. But if they’re dumb enough to let him leave, it’s my job as mayor to make sure he doesn’t leave for the suburbs.
The mayor stressed that any role he plays will be limited. “I am not going to negotiate deals for Pecan Lodge and developers,” he said.
Remember, though: Before he became mayor, Rawlings was president and CEO of Pizza Hut. He’s on a first-name basis with most of the major developers, lenders, commercial real estate brokers and shopping center owners in Dallas. One phone call from him would surely open any door that Justin and his wife Diane might need opened as move forward in deciding their next move.
Justin, always a man of few words, declined to say much about his lunchtime chat with the mayor.
“I felt good about the conversation we had,” he told Wilonsky. “The mayor made it clear it was important to him we remain a Dallas business.”
Wilonsky’s article also includes a lengthy, at times disjointed, account of a conversation between Fourton and two of the big dogs in the Farmers Market redevelopment, Brian Bergersen and Jack Gosnell.
The conversation took place the day before the mayor stopped by for lunch. In it, the developers say all the right things: We want you to stay, We’ll work with you, Tell us what you need, blah-blah.
But the most telling part of the exchange is something Fourton says. It goes to the lack of communication heretofore between the new owners and their prime tenant -- the tenant they’re supposedly working so hard to keep.

“I’ve gotten a lot more information in the last five minutes,” Fourton tells them, “than in the last six months.”

Customers queue up at Pecan Lodge in the Dallas Farmers Market. (Photo@Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)

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