NOTE - This project was put on hold in 2008 due to ongoing problems with the City of Lake Dallas. Lake Dallas is well known to be difficult to work with. The bus interior had been renovated. An auxiliary structure was built to house a restroom and storage. Work had just started on the exterior. Today the bus sits at a boat storage facility.
By Marcia Rios
Sun News Editor
The area's first vintage double decker bus from England found a final home in historic downtown Lake Dallas. The 1967 Leyland two-story bus will become a unique restaurant in the coming months.
The bus is part of the Main & Market project located between Main and Market Streets in Lake Dallas, just across the street from Lake Dallas City Hall. The bus faces Market Street. The project is the brainchild of well-known Lake Dallas resident Terry Lantrip, former owner of The Lake Cities Sun and Lake Cities Printing.
Lantrip conceived the idea to use a double decker commercial space approximately six years ago after seeing another vintage double decker bus used as a coffee shop in Asheville, N.C.
"Their bus is a huge tourist attraction. All the tourism guides and websites encourage visitors to have coffee at the Double D Coffee Company," Lantrip said. "I thought why not bring that idea to Lake Dallas?"
A short time later, Lantrip was traveling through Marble Falls, Texas and saw a double decker bus for sale and the project was born.
According to Lantrip, the bus was originally used on Edge Road in Liverpool and, when taken out of service, used as a training bus. It was brought to the United States to be used as a motor home; however, it was too tall to maneuver the low clearances here in the states.
Next, the bus was purchased to be used as a guesthouse, however, that plan never materialized. While it sat waiting for a new home, several students from the University of Texas filmed a horror movie on the bus.
When he purchased the bus, Lantrip had it towed to Lake Dallas. He said the buses arrival into town "wasn't quite met with much of a welcoming committee."
Lantrip said police officers stopped the bus and told him he couldn't park the bus on his property.
"I had to have the bus parked at the Technician On Wheels lot but that didn't last long because Dave Snider, owner of the business, said the bus was attracting too much attention and had become a tourist attraction. He said the bus had to go so it was moved to another location for storage," Lantrip said.
In the past couple of years, however, the City of Lake Dallas' Community Development Corporation has been working on a plan to revitalize the downtown and hired a consultant to develop a plan. At a planning session filled with property and business owners and city officials, the consultant suggested building on Lake Dallas' uniqueness. The bus became known as an example of that uniqueness. At that point, Lantrip's idea of using the bus as a commercial space in downtown Lake Dallas became a reality.
The bus was moved recently by Two Stepping Towing and carefully put on the concrete pads. Paul Cook, tow truck driver, said towing the bus was a very unusual endeavor. Cooks' friend Rusty Meadows assisted by driving the bus into its' final resting spot as it was pulled by cables.
Lantrip said his assistant, Adam Schultz, have already taken the recliner-type seats out of the lower level of the bus. According to Lantrip, the seats will most likely be recovered and used as home theater seats. The bus' exterior will be repainted bright red. "Several local residents have already volunteered to help with restoration," Lantrip said.
Once opened, restaurant customers will be able to order through a side window or enter the back door of the bus and order from a counter there as well. They then can eat at bistro tables on the sidewalk in front of the bus; eat upstairs or at picnic tables to be placed under a large pecan tree behind the bus. A new 160-square foot brick building is being built behind the bus that will house a restroom and storage area.
Lantrip plans to keep the original interior intact as much as possible. When opened, the bus will allow up to 20 guests to climb the curved back stairway and sit in the original, though recovered, seats. Guests will be able to enjoy the view looking down onto Market Street, which will eventually be lined with beautiful new turn-of-the-century type buildings.
Another project designed for the area across the street from the bus property will have several buildings with commercial space downstairs and residential lofts upstairs.
According to Lantrip, the bus already has been leased and when completed, will house an Italian restaurant. "The space will most likely be the only Italian restaurant in the world housed in a double decker bus," he said. A Spring 2008 opening date is planned.