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Lisa Preston holds an example of the surfboard cutouts she invites new customers to design to add to the display at her restaurant, Quench.

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DALLAS — Fitness and nutrition instructor Lisa Preston has long noticed two things missing from Dallas since she moved here in 1989 with her husband Jeff — healthy dining options and a taste of the tropics.

“I constantly heard from people I was helping that there’s just no healthy options when you go out to eat. It’s true,” Preston said. “I just thought you know, what if, I’m thinking about Dallas. We don’t have a healthy place to eat, that’s what this town needs.”

In December 2019, she combined the two concepts into one new attraction.

She pitched the idea to her friend and local businesswoman Jackie Lawson and by February they were ready to present to Dallas community Quench.

Then COVID hit.

“We put everything on pause for a while. By the end of May, we slowly started going forward with this. We were going to open in late spring,” Preston explained. “So, when COVID hit, really, nobody’s traveling anywhere, so it makes it even more fun.”

To add a twist, they developed a tropical theme, sprinkling their interior décor with palm trees, furniture found outside on the cabana and frescos painted with beach scenes.

“There is nothing tropical about Dallas. Our thinking was I wanted to create this fun, beachy kind of vibe, where you had fun when you came in and didn’t feel like you were in Dallas anymore,” Preston said. “People always have good memories associated with tropical places, where they have fantastic food.”

Preston admits it was rather ironic she ended up running her own restaurant after running away from her own family-run business.

“My parents bought a restaurant when I was 13. I got to work full time throughout high school and I knew if I didn’t move far enough away, I’d be stuck working there,” Preston said. “My parents still own the restaurant. And my little sister, born in 1984, she runs that restaurant where she’s spent her entire life.”

Her family’s restaurant menu was all hamburgers and fries, steaks and pizzas. So, to further distance herself from that legacy, Quench features some basics of a healthy diet.

“We like to focus on overall healthy things. We know a lot of people have health issues that they can’t have certain things, like gluten. So, we have quite of few gluten-free foods and some that are vegan,” Preston said. “Yes, there’s actually some vegans here in Dallas. They came in and they were so excited we were here. They said finally, we can get something that’s not a salad or French fries.”

Quench also has options for people, like Preston, with dietary restrictions and for others who are on high protein diets like keto. They also feature acai and oat bowls, protein shakes, smoothies and, one of their most popular items, servings of Dole Whip, which is essentially a healthier alternative to ice cream.

“We now have lots of toppings. We will be upgrading the machine to two flavors plus a swirl,” Preston said. “The nice thing about Dole Whip is there is only 90 calories in a 4-ounce serving.”

And just to attract the entire population, Preston said Quench has lots of meat options to add to many vegan bowls.

Another big seller on their menu are their wine slushies. Preston said the concept came from offering an alternative to what is on the city’s regular wine walks.

“We wanted to do something different. Everybody loved it. They raved about it. They’d go and get pinot noir, chardonnay. But we had something completely different that everybody was excited about,” Preston said.

She rounds out their alcoholic options with Longboard IPAs, a pineapple cider, and soon, two draft beers.

With the menu firmly established, they were ready for a soft opening in September for family and friends “to work out the bugs.” A ribbon cutting and grand opening followed in the middle of October.

Then, COVID hit, again.

“We had just started to get word out there really well in November and the governor shut everything down,” Preston said about the two-week pause Gov. Kate Brown put on businesses after coronavirus cases spiked throughout the state.

“We were wondering, should we stay open? Are people still interested in it to go? We had done like $12 that first week of the shutdown. We can’t stay open like this. So, we shut down until first of January,” Preston said.

In the interim, they built up their outdoor dining area that was actually part of the original plan.

They didn’t want a standard white tent like other restaurants had set up. Rather, a surf-shack feel out front.

Unfortunately, outdoor winter dining, interrupted by snow and ice rain storms, were not a part of the concept.

Now that they’ve reopened, she invites customers to help design plywood surfboard cutouts to place around the outdoor dining area’s walls, to bring their concept all together. She feels Quench’s concept can only grow as the weather warms.

“I still don’t think people know about us. We’re not on Main Street, but right off Main Street. We use a lot of social media,” Preston said. “By summer we’ll be a lot busier. We have some good days and some days with a lot of crickets.”

And if the concept is a success?

“I would like to get it up and busy before looking too far down the road, like a franchise. But you always have to have a big dream,” she added. “It’s still the right concept for Dallas. A lot of people want healthier options and when they know about it, they’re excited. It’s just finding those people and getting the word out.”

Quench

Where: 119 SW Court Street

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch; 5 to 8 p.m. for Quenchtime; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays

Contact: 971-218-0412 or www.q-en.ch

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