By Karen Welch — Senior Content Producer
One downtown historic building will house two distinctly different restaurant concepts being brought to Amarillo by a group of local investors.
The Woolworth Building at 626 S. Polk St. will be renovated to house Moondoggy’s Pizza on the ground floor and Off the Hook, a seafood and steakhouse on the second floor, according to Brandy Johns, of DRJ Elite, a limited liability company that is a partner in the restaurants. DRJ is a partnership of James Allen, Johns and Nesha Reynolds.
Moondoggy’s will offer Italian food – pizza and pasta dishes – in a casual sports bar atmosphere, Johns said.
Off the Hook will serve a menu that focuses on Atlantic Coast seafood, which will be shipped fresh from Georgia several times a week, she said.
The restaurant “still will be casual, but more upscale than the sports bar,” Johns said.
Moondoggy’s should seat about 150 diners, while the Off the Hook could seat 250 to 300 people, she said.
New Commerce Partners, a real estate investment limited partnership, owns the Woolworth Building, which has been home to the federal bankruptcy court for 25 years, according to Joe Bob McCartt, an investor in New Commerce Partners.
The government’s lease for space in the building ends in July, McCartt said. Some of the court’s operations already have been transferred to the U.S. District Courthouse.
Renovation construction could begin quickly after the lease expires, McCartt said. He declined to divulge a project cost.
McCartt said Off the Hook will take up the full second floor.
“It will have windows that open, overlooking Polk Street,” he said. “It’s going to be neat. We don’t have anything like this here.”
Amarillo architect Greg Bliss created a design that brings the old Woolworth facade back and emphasizes windows.
Moondoggy’s will fill about 3,500 square feet in the first floor. Negotiations are ongoing with a possible second ground-floor tenant, McCartt said.
A contractor associated with New Commerce Partners brought a Georgia seafood restaurant the DRJ group manages, the Rooftop at Ocean Lodge, which is in Ocean Lodge at St. Simon’s Island, to their attention, McCartt said.
Moondoggy’s could open by mid-September, and plans call for Off the Hook to open by Dec. 2, in time for Center City of Amarillo’s Electric Light Parade, Johns said.
An announcement about the restaurants and the future of the Woolworth Building occurred during today’s High Noon on the Square event, one of Center City’s signature events for bringing crowds to the downtown district. Center City Executive Director Beth Duke said New Commerce also is working to bring a jazz club to the building.
A news release provided during the event said the structure started its life as a five-and-dime store in 1947.