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Mister Charles is located inside the old Highland Park Soda Fountain, an historic space on Knox Street that operated for more than 100 years.

Dallas’ Duro Hospitality opens Mister Charles, its seventh concept in five years

The hospitality group said it isn’t done yet, plans “to build an empire”

Duro Hospitality’s roots began in 2018 with the opening of The Charles in the Dallas Design District — an Italian restaurant interpreted through a Texan lens. Now those early efforts have come full circle with the July 2023 opening of Mister Charles, which has been billed as the sophisticated and well-traveled cousin of The Charles.

Mister Charles is located inside the old Highland Park Soda Fountain, an historic space on Knox Street that operated for more than 100 years. The renovated restaurant has soaring 38-foot ceilings, three-story columns, a long marble bar, and a trompe l’oeil-wallpapered ceiling.

The restaurant’s open kitchen embraces French and Italian cuisines, with a canapes section featuring a foie gras croquette, a cured salmon tart, and an egg salad sandwich with caviar. Appetizers include crab cake vadouvan and beef carpaccio, while pastas range from the truffle duck berlingot with artichoke and tomato, to the uni shells carbonara with pancetta and bottarga. Larger plates encompass fish and steak, and standout dishes include the whole Dover sole, Lobster Thermador and lamb loin Wellington, which comes with foie gras and fennel sausage and serves two people. 

Mister Charles is the latest project from Duro Hospitality’s group of local hospitality pros, whose experience spans culinary, front of house, management, real estate and design. Their ambitious slate of openings led to the need for an organized hospitality group, and Duro Hospitality was founded in 2020. The team includes an operations director, culinary director and training director, who spend months in each new restaurant to make sure they fit Duro’s standards.

“As our company grows, we have expanded our corporate team, which allows us more bandwidth to support and embed our culture in new concepts,” Chas Martin, partner at Duro Hospitality said. “We all have different strengths as partners and have learned to lean on each other in different ways to make us the strongest team possible.”

Since the founders’ first restaurant debuted in 2018, they’ve also opened Bar Charles, which is an adjacent spinoff to The Charles serving cocktails, wines and light bites. Sister is an Italian-inspired neighborhood restaurant serving wood-fired meats and fish, pasta and light Mediterranean cuisine. Next door is Café Duro, a European-style street cafe with a walk-up espresso counter, pastries, sandwiches, wine and spritzes. And above the cafe is a departure from restaurants — Casa Duro, a small lodging concept with three uniquely designed apartments available for short- or long-term stays that acts as the company’s showpiece foray into design and hotels.

“Casa Duro was a chance for us to show some of our strengths that you don’t find normally in a restaurant company,” Martin said. “Our partners all have experience in different aspects of the hotel industry, and we do want to break into that industry soon.”

Openings continued last year with El Carlos Elegante in the Design District. It’s a Latin-inspired concept serving Argentinian-style wood-fired meats and fish, plus traditional Mexican dishes incorporating masa and house-made tortillas, crudos, and an extensive mezcal list.

Overseeing the group’s culinary operations is chef J Chastain, who cooked in top Dallas restaurants alongside chefs like Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles before joining Duro Hospitality. As an operating partner, he works with the chefs and managers at each concept to ensure consistency across the group’s diverse portfolio, which spans multiple cuisines.

“Cooking and hospitality at its core transcends cuisine types,” said Martin. “Great chefs can cook any cuisine if they set their mind to it. We bring people into our teams that have open minds and are willing to grow. We push each other to do more and learn more every day. The team executes consistently because our leaders care deeply about what we are building.”

Martin hints that more concepts are in the works, and said the team doesn’t want to stand still.

“We came to build an empire and anything short of that will not suffice,” he said. “We have concepts that we are working on in and outside of Dallas right now. Stay tuned because we are just getting started.”

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