Shannon Wynne: Restaurateur, Preservationist, Conservationist

Shannon Wynne has been called many things over the years, most notably “successful restauranteur” and perennial “cool kid.”

Raised in Highland Park, Shannon is known for creating some of Dallas’ most vibrant clubs of the ‘80s and ‘90s – now just memories without landmarks as most of the buildings that housed his ventures have been demolished.

Today, he co-owns and operates five successful restaurant concepts: Flying Fish; Flying Saucer Draught Emporium; Meddlesome Moth; Rodeo Goat; and Miriam Cocina Latina. All are visually rich with particular cultures, from Flying Fish’s East Texas fish camp vibe to Rodeo Goat’s rustic Texas barn to Miriam’s radiant, warm, and understated elegance.

Shannon’s a preservationist, a supporter of preserving something, specifically historic buildings and artifacts. He has advocated for maintaining the architecture of the Park Cities. Largely, and sadly, to no avail.

He would like to talk to folks who come from other states and tear down some of the community’s most important houses.

“I would tell them that the homes were built by significant architects,” Wynne said. “We had our own style, a prairie style. We didn’t create it; it wasn’t ours, but it was certainly [prevalent] in this region.”

The blocky styles that are replacing the architectural gems don’t reflect the history of this place, he added. Nor do they honor it.

Wynne also has a heart for East Texas, specifically Caddo Lake, and has built an outdoor amphitheater there to allow locals to host fundraising events for the lake and its surrounding natural elements. One of Texas’ few natural lakes, Caddo, has been infiltrated by dangerous plant life that threatens to choke out native plant and aquatic life, and, true to form, the preservationist made a short film about it to help raise awareness.

With his restaurants now in six states, preserving the cultures that make his concepts so special has not been easy. Restaurant success is sometimes just catching lightning in a bottle, but Wynne’s done it. His success is likely due to his authenticity and brilliant insight into people and places. Shannon and his partners have succeeded in this notoriously fickle business and, thankfully, survived the pandemic.

In a quick round table of favorites, Shannon revealed some of his go-to menu items in Dallas. Carbone’s Lasagna, which he says is the best in town; Las Palmas’ Spinach and Crab Salad; any fish at Montlake Cut, and Miriam’s Ceviche, which includes tiger shrimp and baby octopus and might well be the best bite of food you’ll ever eat.

At 70, Shannon is looking outward and onward. The friend, mentor, employer, husband, dad, and now “Shan Daddy” to three grandchildren born in the last year isn’t retiring. “Building is fun,” he said of his projects, including the restoration of historic homes in the Cedars.

Keep building and preserving, Shannon. Dallas is better for it.

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Kersten Rettig

Kersten Rettig is the only DFW Food/Travel writer with luxury hospitality leadership experience and a former restaurant owner, employee, and chief marketing officer. Kersten's worked on the inside and has the insight and experience to tell the stories to the outside. She's a Park Cities resident, mom, wife and a decent cook. Follow her on Instagram @KerstenEats.

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