Year in Review | Our Top 10 Stories of 2016

Count down of the stories that resonated with our readers.

2016

This year is quickly coming to a close, so it’s a great time to take a look back at our top 10 most-read stories of the year. From restaurants to research to local startups, these are the stories that resonated with you.

Let’s count’em down.


Roanoke’s Restaurants Prove a Recipe for Downtown Revival

If, as the old saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then surely the same theory could hold true for tourism and economic development.

That’s what happened in the past decade in Roanoke, the quiet Denton County community that was best known as the home of the late legendary golfer Byron Nelson and for the original Babe’s Chicken Dinner House on Oak Street, where people tailgated or lined the street for an hour or more to get a plate of its mouth-watering fried chicken.

Roanoke is known as the “Unique Dining Capital of Texas,” having been declared that by the State Legislature in 2009. It’s a city that’s made a remarkable transformation with 54 restaurants and counting – that’s one restaurant for every 122 of its roughly 6,600 residents. Continue reading story.

Tech Wildcatters’ First ‘Gauntlet’ Group Reaches Pitch Day Milestone

For the last three months, Tech Wildcatters Executive Director Molly Cain has watched startups blossom into budding businesses.

On Thursday, the inaugural cohorts in the Dallas-based accelerator’s new data-driven program, “The Gauntlet,” had their time in the public spotlight during Tech Wildcatters Throw Down: Spring Pitch Day at the House of Blues.

”All the perseverance and all that preparation — you don’t really see that on stage, but I’m extremely proud of them for the work that they did to get here,” Cain said.

And as the event’s handout reminded, there were no “participation trophies.” Continue reading story.

Researcher Examines How Marijuana Affects Brain

Many states in recent years have legalized marijuana use for either medical or recreational purposes, and a new study by a researcher at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas suggests that it might be prudent to step back and take a closer look at how the drug affects the human brain.

The study by Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., director of cognitive neuroscience of addictive behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth, indicates that heavy use of marijuana can rewire the brain’s ability to process natural rewards.

“It really does change the way the brain responds to natural rewards,” Filbey told me. Continue reading story.

Dallas IQ Bar: Where Food and Conversation Intersect

Editor’s note: The Dallas IQ Bar is no longer in business. 
The idea behind the Dallas IQ Bar is simple: a group of people meet 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. Continue reading story.  

Dallas Natives Bring Parking Into the 21st Century Through ParkHub

When George Baker was 12 years old, he began his career in the parking industry by sweeping lots for his family’s business, Parking Companies of America. Two decades later, the Highland Park High School graduate is sweeping traditional parking operations into the digital age with ParkHub.

Headquartered in Dallas’ Design District, ParkHub simplifies the process of finding a parking spot through its cutting-edge online reservation system and helps parking lot operators streamline efficiency and maximize profit through PRIME (Parking Revenue Inventory Management Enterprise), a mobile Point-of-Sales system the company released in September 2015.

“My aim was to take the pain out of parking, first for the person trying to find a spot, and now for the business owner or event center trying to run an efficient operation,” Baker, ParkHub’s founder and CEO, said. Continue reading story.

Story of a Legendary Dallas Game Studio

Dallas became a hub of the early PC gaming movement in the 1990s, with studios like Id Software (Doom) and 3D Realms (Duke Nukem) paving the way for a new generation of games. Another local studio that belongs in that pantheon is Ensemble Studios, which was founded right here in Dallas in 1995.

Ensemble is best known for the Age of Empires games, a real-time strategy (RTS) series that belongs to the same genre as Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft and StarCraft games. Unfortunately, Ensemble closed its doors in 2009, but the studio’s legacy lives on in the multiple local studios that rose from its ashes. Continue reading story.

In Case of Emergency

At 33 years old, Kevin Cutler was a healthy and active young man. He had just moved to Dallas, excited to begin a new life in his new city, when without warning, a blood vessel in his brain burst, rendering him incapacitated. Coping with despair, Cutler’s friends and loved ones lacked the personal and professional information needed to manage their friend’s life in the face of crisis.

“I remember sitting in the hospital with his mom, and we kept getting hit with questions,” says Oscar Villarreal, who met Cutler through a mutual friend when he first moved to Dallas and quickly became a close buddy. “I felt I should have known answers to simple things like how to contact [Cutler’s] work but I didn’t.”

The traumatic experience inspired Villarreal to create ReKall, a secure platform that allows users to give information and direction to friends and family in the event something happens to them. Continue reading story.

Why is the Dallas Skyline Purple?

That’s the question many may be asking tonight. But before we get to the purple skyline, we want to tell you what’s been happening at Dallas Innovates since our website launched in December.

As many of you know, Dallas Innovates, a collaboration of the Dallas Regional Chamber and D Magazine Partners, is an online media platform showcasing the region as a hub for innovation. We’re bringing you stories about the things that are new, now, and next in the Dallas-Fort Worth innovation scene. These stories are being told by our writers, our advisers, and a growing number of “voices,” local thought leaders who provide industry insight and perspectives. Continue reading story.

Urban Farming is in Full Bloom Thanks to One Couple

In 2013, Jody and Max Wall began growing a handful of vegetables and herbs using an aeroponic garden system called the Tower Garden. They watched as the vertical, futuristic-looking contraption grew flush with leafy foliage using only the small space of their balcony. The Walls were amazed at how the Tower Garden, equipped with a pump that supplies growing plants with water and nutrients, allowed them to enjoy a variety of nutritious, clean vegetables all year long.

This effective, simple approach to gardening got them thinking: What if this kind of farming was done in Dallas — on a large scale? Effective use of the Tower Garden could grant even the most space-starved urbanites easy access to organic produce. Plus, the Tower Garden claims to grow plants up to 50 percent faster, yield more fruit, and, since it functions without soil, is immune to certain fungi and pests.

“Using this technology, you could set up actual workable farms with one employee and have them be more effective than large-scale farms,” Jody says. “Labor and use of resources would be drastically reduced.” Continue reading story.

Oak Cliff Natives Aim to Alleviate Poverty Through Clothing Brand

For Tim and Terrence Maiden, Dallas’ poverty problem really hits home.

The identical twin brothers grew up in Dallas County, a place where 29 percent of residents under age 18 are in poverty, according to county-level poverty estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau in December.

It wasn’t until they left Oak Cliff to attend Texas Christian University on football scholarships, that they realized the extent of the area’s poverty.

“Our environment exposed us to some of the challenges derived from poverty,” Tim said. “We didn’t know it ’till we were able to escape that environment. We’d never walked on a college campus ’till we were being recruited.” Continue reading story.

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