Dallas IQ Bar: Where Food and Conversation Intersect

Thomas Mosley and Sonali Kumar, co-founders of Dallas IQ Bar. Photo by Imani Lytle.

The idea behind the Dallas IQ Bar is simple: a group of people meets at a restaurant, enjoys dinner and drinks, and discusses a handful of controversial topics during 25-minute segments. They might chat about municipal spending. Or argue about gun control. Or have a heartfelt talk about race relations. They’ll debate and exchange and clash. The group is selected specifically for its variety, and participants don’t know who they’ll meet when they show up. Small talk is eliminated. Attendees are asked to avoid discussing what they do for a living and how much money they make.

Too often we inundate ourselves with people who reinforce our beliefs, which draws us away from the people who aren’t like us. The IQ Bar seeks to shatter that toxic “us-versus-them mentality” and facilitate community thinking.

The idea may seem obvious, or rather simple. But consider your friends. They’re lovely people, probably, but odds are they’re a lot like you: similar socioeconomic status, similar political views, similar religion and/or race. Dallas IQ Bar establishes something invaluable: an anti–echo chamber. Too often we inundate ourselves with people who reinforce our beliefs, which draws us away from the people who aren’t like us. The IQ Bar seeks to shatter that toxic “us-versus-them mentality” and facilitate community thinking.

“If you make six figures, you probably don’t understand the point of view of someone who’s protesting for $15 minimum wage. And it’s not fair to demonize someone who makes a six-figure salary without knowing them,” says co-founder Thomas Mosley. “This is about getting everyone on common ground.”

Mosley is friends with a man almost twice his age with whom, on the surface, he has little in common. Still, they get together and discuss all manner of taboo topics. They force each other to think and grow. “We were sitting there solving all the world’s problems over a glass of wine,” Mosley says. “And I thought, ‘We should be able to share this with everyone.’”

Perceiving the need for honest conversation and community-building in Dallas, Mosley and his partner, Sonali Kumar, sought to establish regular events that would bring people together. “Dallas is going through a boom in every sense of the word—economic, people, jobs, real estate,” Mosley says. “Now is a wonderful time to leverage all the different people and experiences that are congregating right here.”

They didn’t know what to expect at first—taboo topics, dissimilar strangers, and alcohol seemed like a risky mix. The first dinner was in late spring, and since then, they’ve become so popular that Mosley is already in talks to partner with hotels and bring in chefs to create spreads for events in 2016. They aim to expand to between two and four events per month. Venues so far have included Twenty-Seven in Deep Ellum and Table 13 in Addison. Ser, the steakhouse, is slated to host their Jan. 26 event.

“If this can get people to open up and share with other people, and do it in an honest way, we’ve succeeded,” says Thomas Mosley, co-founder of the Dallas IQ Bar.

“If this can get people to open up and share with other people, and do it in an honest way, we’ve succeeded,” Mosley says.

Signing up is simple: visit Dallas IQ Bar’s website and fill out the form. This will put you on the list for upcoming events. So far, events have conjured a broad mix of Dallasites: wedding planners, lawyers, bar managers, executive directors from nonprofits, and at least one Dallas county judge.

In the future, Mosley hopes for organic growth and consistently good experiences. He imagines guest moderators and possible expansion beyond just dinner. He’d like the idea to grow as big as possible. “We all have a need for this. We’re all human,” he says. “If this can get people to open up and share with other people, and do it in an honest way, we’ve succeeded. It’s worth it if we can get someone to say, ‘I’ve never looked at that from this point of view.’”


For a daily dose of what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth innovation, subscribe to our Dallas Innovates e-newsletter.

Comments are closed.