Thanks to the onslaught of freezing-cold temperatures and tons of snow, hundreds of thousands of people across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex have been left without power as the state’s power grid struggles to handle unprecedented demand. With temperatures dropping into the single-digits, a number of the city’s restaurants and coffee shops are serving as impromptu warming stations, offering locals both a bite to eat and a respite from the bitter cold.
On Tuesday morning, Valery Jean-Bart opened up his popular Greenville Avenue dessert shop Val’s Cheesecakes to neighborhood residents who had lost power and needed to charge their phones, work remotely on their laptops, or just warm up after being without power for hours. Jean-Bart tells Eater that he decided to open up his shop to everyone after seeing an unhoused person in the neighborhood standing outside in single-digit temperatures.
Shortly after, Jean-Bart put on a pot of coffee, and started handing out free hot chocolate to folks who came by. He also offered up his bakery’s gas stoves to residents who needed to warm cold food. Throughout the day, he welcomed a number of people into the shop, some of whom needed to charge their laptops, and others who just wanted some killer cheesecake.
Val’s isn’t the only spot in town that’s been transformed into a DIY warming station. In Fort Worth, music venue and bar Tulips opened up its 5,000 square foot space to locals who needed a spot to warm up and some hot coffee, and they’re planning to keep the doors open as long as there’s a need.
“We’ve had about 60 people come through today,” says co-owner Jason Suder. “We have 5,000 square feet of space, we have power, and we have the ability to keep people warm and in a safe place. As long as there are power outages, we will be open for people.”
And of course, keeping people warm and fed right now has been a community effort in Fort Worth. When Tulips started to run out of coffee, Fort Worth’s Craftwork Coffee Company chipped in several bags of coffee to keep the pots on all night. Tulips is also serving hot dogs to folks that stop by.
“I don’t mind staying up all night,” says co-owner Jason Suder. “We’ve got a lot of coffee here.” He also notes that the venue has plenty of church pews in case people need to take a nap, and clean bathroom facilities.
It’s been a rough 48 hours for Dallas-Fort Worth residents, with frigid temperatures and several inches of snow causing both rolling blackouts and extended power outages for tens of thousands of people across the metroplex. Those outages have also impacted restaurants, many of which have been forced to close their doors either because there’s no electricity or it just isn’t safe enough for staffers to make the drive to work.
In addition to the restaurants that are allowing people inside to warm up, there are a number of official warming stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for people who are unhoused or without heat. In Dallas, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is currently open 24 hours a day to meet the need.
ERCOT, the agency that manages the state’s power supply, has said that it has no firm timeline for when the outages will end, and freezing temperatures are expected to last in Dallas-Fort Worth through Thursday.
Which means that, in the absence of a fully functional power grid or social safety net, the city’s restaurants will continue to do double-duty as both dining destinations and an essential part of the infrastructure necessary to keep people warm during what might be the wildest winter storm on record.
Want to help Tulips feed folks in Fort Worth? The venue will be accepting donations of food and other necessities — shoot Tulips a DM on Instagram to find out more about how you can help.