Contact Us
Sponsored Content

Retail And Restaurant Tenants Breathe New Life Into A Beloved Texas Landmark

Mule Alley’s Legacy of Color bronze sculpture honoring the American Paint Horse.

Few places feel more authentically Texan than the Fort Worth Stockyards. With its rich, cowboy-centric history and twice-daily cattle drives, the Stockyards has spent more than a century attracting locals and tourists searching for a way to feel connected to the old West. But sometimes, even beloved historical institutions need to evolve to keep their legacies alive. 

“Visiting the Stockyards is a rite of passage for people from all over the state of Texas,” said Craig Cavileer, executive vice president at development firm Majestic Realty Co., and managing partner of Stockyards Heritage. “We want to keep that history alive while breathing new life into this unique destination.” 

Cavileer is part of the Stockyards Heritage Development Co., a public/private partnership between Majestic Realty Co.,The Hickman Cos. and the city of Fort Worth that is working to rejuvenate the Stockyards by renovating its classic buildings and bringing in a host of new shopping, dining and entertainment venues to the area — all while respecting its history. 

Hotel Drover and its 97 West Kitchen & Bar anchor Mule Alley to the south.

Before Majestic stepped in, this treasured area was in serious neglect, but the Stockyards Heritage team put together a plan to bring it back to life while maintaining what makes it so special to Texans. As part of this plan, the team has renovated 180K SF of 100-year-old horse and mule barns, collectively known as Mule Alley, which will be home to the first new slate of shops, restaurants and creative office space. 

The Stockyards, located on the Chisholm Trail, served as a major stopping point for livestock in the mid-to-late 1800s, drawing in ranchers and cowboys from all over Texas and eventually becoming home to meatpacking plants and livestock auctions. Things changed in the mid-1900s as paved roads began to replace railroads and the livestock market moved more local and away from the Stockyards. 

For the past several years, the Stockyards has mostly served as a tourist attraction, drawing in visitors looking to explore the Livestock Exchange Building, the Coliseum, museums and the former Swift & Co. headquarters, and to see the daily cattle drives. Cavileer plans to maintain this area’s historical feel while also welcoming new tenants that respect its heritage. 

Hotel Drover’s social and meeting space, The Barn, features 150-year-old timber and a landscaped outdoor area.

“Each brand we have selected for Mule Alley has been chosen for their obvious pedigree, or for their unique vision of how to interpret the Western lifestyle and all it represents to locals and visitors from around the world,” Cavileer said in a statement. 

These tenants include Lucchese Bootmaker, a Western retailer that will have a 2K SF retail showcase on Exchange Street featuring Western fashion and footwear. The bootmaker will also be opening a custom boot shop in the lobby of the Hotel Drover, the area’s first four-star Marriott Autograph Collection boutique hotel, which will feature an event barn and a Texas-style restaurant. 

Cavileer said the hotel is named after the cowboy drovers who used to lead cattle through the Chisholm Trail to the Stockyards and there will be many references to this history in the hotel itself paired with a modern flair. 

Mule Alley north entrance on Exchange Avenue.

Mule Alley will also be home to the only Stetson store on the planet, a museum-like space that will celebrate the 150-year legacy of the iconic hat company, and a King Ranch retail store, selling classic Western apparel and accessories inspired by the legacy of the 825,000-acre ranch.

Cavileer added that along with its many retail spots, Mule Alley will be home to, the American Paint Horse Association and a wide selection of dining options, including an experiential American smokehouse from Chef Marcus Paslay, The Biscuit Bar, Second Rodeo Brewing Co. and Cowtown Winery.

RFDTV and the Cowboy Channel have also moved their headquarters from Omaha and Nashville to the Stockyards. Visitors will be able to get a special inside look at how Cowboy Channel and RFDTV shows are produced and brought to more than 40 million American households each day. 

Mule Alley artist rendering.

Cavileer said that while his team is confident that these new shops, restaurants and entertainment venues will attract tourists, their first goal was to design a place for the community, where locals can come and celebrate their heritage and feel close to the past. To this end, the Stockyards will host more than 20 big events this year geared at local culture, including those focused on food and beverage and live music.

Mule Alley was given D Magazine's D CEO 2020 Commercial Real Estate award for Best Retail Deal.

“The Stockyards has a sacred history we want to preserve, but we also want to bring a relevance that will ensure the continued longevity of this historic place,” Cavileer said in a statement. “That’s a tall order.” 

This feature was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Majestic Realty Co. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.