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Fort Worth bakery-cafe downtown switches owner: Chef said the market is sliced too thin

Editor’s note: Updated Thursday afternoon to reflect the announcment that 3rd Street Market will stay open under new management.

The 3rd Street Market sourdough bakery-cafe will change owners Saturday, with chef and co-owner Dena Peterson Shaskan saying she is taking a break after 16 months from an industry with “too many restaurants and not enough people.”

The bakery-cafe will reopen under new management, Sundance Square said in an announcement.

Shaskan said she will keep her wine bar and shop, Wines from a Broad, 317 Houston St., which features wines by women vintners. It’s open nights and weekends, when downtown is more crowded.

Shaskan and her husband, Trent, opened 3rd Street in a former sports bar-and-grill at 425 W. Third St. in Sundance Square. It’s a daytime-only coffee-and-artisan-bread cafe and wine bar that has served sourdough fresh from the oven, along with sandwiches and soups.

She said Thursday that she and her husband are “just tired” after working six days a week for more than a year with a limited staff.

She wrote on Facebook: “Come by and get a hug and stock up on our signature soups and lasagnas before Dena hangs up her apron.”

Sourdoughs are baked at the bar in 3rd Street Market in Sundance Square. Handout photo
Sourdoughs are baked at the bar in 3rd Street Market in Sundance Square. Handout photo

Sundance Square praised the Shaskans, saying they were invited to open the bakery-cafe and “they are both outstanding chefs and individuals” invited to open the innovative foodie market and shop.

The 3rd Street Market will “recalibrate” under new management, the Sundance statement said.

When Dena Shaskan announced their departure, she also said weekday coffee-and-lunch traffic was “like every downtown in the United States — There aren’t enough people in the offices.”

The bakery-cafe opened in late 2022 in a Sundance space at the corner of Third and Lamar streets on the west edge, where street parking is easier and free on weekends.

It has featured baker Trent Shaskan’s Icon Bread, popular at farmers’ markets. The breads may return to market stands, Dena Shaskan said.

The atmosphere is bright and airy, offering a friendly haven for coffee drinkers studying or working.

The menu Wednesday offered five sandwiches, a grilled chicken salad and soups such as broccoli-cheese, black-bean-tomatillo, beef-and-barley or chicken-sausage gumbo.

Daytime business has been slow in part because weekday traffic downtown came back more slowly than expected after the COVID pandemic, Dena Shaskan said. Plus, a burst of new restaurants have opened across Fort Worth

A sprouts-and-hummus sandwich on sourdough at 3rd Street Market. Handout photo
A sprouts-and-hummus sandwich on sourdough at 3rd Street Market. Handout photo

Even the new 61 Osteria Italian restaurant on Burnett Park, ranked this week by Texas Monthly as the No. 4 best new restaurant in Texas, switched to dinner-only service after lunch and brunch were slow.

The closing nearby of the downtown public library, and the relocation of City Hall to a former office tower a mile west of Sundance Square, did not affect 3rd Street’s business, Dena Shaskan said. If anything, the library closing freed more street parking.

“What surprised us was that with the number of people still working downtown, that we had such loyal customers and great repeat business,” she said.

3rd Street Market is a sourdough bar and market with cooking classes. Bud Kennedy/bud@star-telegram.com
3rd Street Market is a sourdough bar and market with cooking classes. Bud Kennedy/bud@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth’s convention and tourism boom has filled steakhouses and a half-dozen new downtown hotels.

But, Dena Shaskan said, out-of-town visitors are more likely to go to destination restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory or Reata, a Western-themed steakhouse moving in June from 310 Houston St. to the ground floor of The Tower, 500 Throckmorton St.

Reata also operates a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant downtown, 203 Cafe, 215 Commerce St.