Oysters near the Square

Hoochies owner Sam Soloman shucks fresh oyster. Hoochies is known around town for serving fresh seafood. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer

After two years of dishing oysters and seafood to Denton residents, Hoochie’s Oyster House is moving closer to the Square. Following La Burguesa’s exit, the restaurant plans on filling the void left by the burger joint.

Sam Soloman, 71, Hoochie’s founder and manager, entered the Texas seafood industry more than 30 years ago when he and a business partner started Aww, Shucks in Dallas. Eventually, he decided to start his own business, leading to the birth of Hoochie’s Oyster House.

Soloman chose to start Hoochie’s in Denton because his children graduated from UNT. When Hoochie’s arrived in Little D, it gained an instant following, despite its somewhat removed location on Bell Avenue

“People were popping in and telling us how welcome we were in Denton, even while we were building the place,” Solomon said.

Seated between noisy railroad tracks and a block-spanning apartment complex on South Bell Avenue, Hoochie’s has been attracting customers with its live music and friendly atmosphere, rather than a convenient location.

Hoochies has been open for three years in Denton. The restaurant is in the process of relocating to 214 E. Hickory on the square. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer

However, the lease on Hoochie’s current location runs out May 7 and the future location at 214 East Hickory will be right in the middle of the party on Denton’s square. Soloman is aiming to hold the grand opening May 7 in order to coincide with the current location’s closing.

With a more central location on East Hickory, Soloman is hoping his restaurant will be able to attract more potential patrons. But with increased traffic comes an increase in competition. East Hickory and its adjoining Industrial Street are packed with restaurants serving a variety of cuisine ranging from Andaman’s curry to Banter Bistro’s tapas.

Several restaurants have occupied the address before closing up shop. La Burguesa recently shut its doors after two years of business. Before the burger restaurant, Giovanni’s Pizza and Hot Box Pizza bowed out from the location as well. Soloman isn’t fazed though, and even welcomes more competition.

“The more the merrier,” Soloman said. “The more that people go to Mellow Mushroom, the more that people go to Rusty’s Tacos, the more that people see me.”

With other locations available to the restaurant, a large factor in Soloman’s decision to stay in Denton, other than the sense of community, is the local music and arts scene.

“The college has had a tremendous effect on the city and the city has responded accordingly,” Soloman said. “The kids that play music here have taken what their parents and grandparents have given them and melded it into this wonderful potpourri of music.”

Currently, Hoochie’s incorporates Denton’s musical talents with its food by hosting three artists every Monday night to play live in the restaurant. Soloman plans on continuing the tradition after the move.

Jesse Holderbaum, an IT developer for Sally Beauty, thinks it will be interesting to see how Soloman and the rest of his staff translate their signature style to the new location on East Hickory.

“Hoochie’s has a lot of personality,” Holderbaum said. “I really like the feel of this place. And, as much of a scar as the train tracks might be, it builds character. Hopefully they can maintain that same character.”

A platter of fresh oysters sits on the bar waiting to be given to a hungry customer on Feb. 27 at Hoochies. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer

Denton local Jennifer Clark has been eating at Hoochie’s since its arrival. She said she’s excited about the move and thinks it is a good business decision on the part of management.

”I think it will be good. It’s right there by the bars, so people will be able to walk there easily,” Clark said. “And having other businesses around Hoochie’s will make people curious about it.”

Hoochie’s has already won the stomachs of many, and Sam Soloman said he isn’t going to change what isn’t broken.

“We’re even going to continue the tradition of offering beers for one dollar when trains pass at the new location,” Soloman said.

When asked what the future of Hoochie’s looks like, Sam Soloman replied: “Bright.”


Originally published at ntdaily.com on March 20, 2014

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