JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

May 10, 2016
Rock & Brews
The Colony, TX USA
Review by Brian Steward
Photos by Brian Steward

Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons And Paul Stanley Open Dallas Area Restaurant

The Dallas area just got even cooler. Last Tuesday, KISS legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley along with franchise partners Michael Zislis and Dave Furano, were on hand for the grand opening of their new Rock & Brews restaurant in north Dallas suburb, The Colony, Texas.

Rock & Brews is a themed restaurant, but quite different from many that are popping up all over these days. Each location features a local flair and is designed from the ground up to represent the regional musical landscape, explained franchise partner Furano. The one in The Colony features two huge murals, one featuring rock icons such as David Bowie, Freddy Mercury, John Lennon and of course, KISS. The other mural reflects a Texas-based musical influence, featuring the lone figure of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Cow skulls painted in the KISS make-up made famous by owners Simmons and Stanley adorn the rustically styled walls.

The overall family-friendly vibe is felt from the moment you walk into the restaurant, offering a fun rock-themed experience. Within its bright, open areas and high ceilings, there are television monitors lining the walls, playing music videos and concert footage constantly, but not so loud that you couldn't easily have a conversation with friends at the same table. Outside, the covered patio features a small stage for live music, a huge bar and a play area with game tables for children. The restaurant is even pet-friendly. Stanley explained that all of the tabletops were made from reclaimed wood, giving the restaurant a really unique look. Although Rock & Brews is a franchise, it is a very hands-on business model. The architect and design team responsible for the look of the entire Rock & Brews experience were even on hand to see the location christened.

Rock & Brews is a relatively new entity. The first location opened in El Segundo, California in April 2012. The Colony location is the 15th with many more on the way, according to Stanley. "Within the next four years, we should have 50 locations," he added.

The most striking attribute of the Rock & Brews experience is the food. This is something that cannot be said for many themed restaurants, where the menu takes a back seat to atmosphere and wall displays. From pizzas to burgers, salads and specialty entrees, this is no ordinary "look-at-me" joint. The food is top-notch. If you are a pizza fan as I am, I'd recommend the R&B Special and Oven Roasted Vegetable. The Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings are also out of sight. And there are more craft beers on tap than you will be able to try in your first few visits.

After Tuesday's short ribbon-cutting and Grand Opening ceremony, Rock & Brews did something few establishments do; they gave back to the men and women of our armed forces. A restaurant full of active and retired military personnel was treated to free food and drinks, as well as a photo-op with Simmons and Stanley. After everyone was seated and enjoying the day, Simmons and Stanley slowly made their way around the restaurant to each table visiting, laughing and taking selfies with America's heroes. This was clearly not fake or for publicity. It was obvious this is a real passion for them. After the food was eaten, there was a short ceremony and the Rock & Brews partners donated thousands of dollars to many local causes benefiting local vets. "The military is the reason we are all here.

The people who think freedom is free are the ones who have never had to sacrifice for it. So, for us, it's real important that the first people who come through the doors the day we open are the military. These people don't get their fair shake. They go fight on our behalf and when they come back they don't get what they need. Their families don't get what they need. Everybody is impacted. For us, to bring them in here to spotlight and acknowledge them and give them a check is a token towards something really necessary, and that is to take better care of the military," Stanley explained. Simmons echoed his remarks, explaining how important the armed forces were to him personally.

After the armed forces event, the restaurant was rearranged to accommodate a VIP fan experience later in the afternoon, although fans began showing up in the early morning hours to catch a glimpse of their KISS idols. A buffet line was set up and a little after 4 pm, VIP ticket holders were allowed in one at a time, each personally greeted and getting a photo with Simmons and Stanley.

After everyone was inside, the food and drinks began to flow. Simmons and Stanley floated around the room signing some autographs and posing for photos with fans. With all the excitement in the air, it was clear that the people who paid to be at this event were members of the KISS Army. The fans arrived mostly in KISS t-shirts with armload's of stuff to be signed ranging from KISS Color forms and albums to photos and posters. One fan even brought a towel that she had caught at a recent concert, for Simmons to sign and another was wearing Destroyer-era replica Gene Simmons demon boots. Simmons explained that it's very important to him to always put the fans first and try to sign as many autographs and take photos whenever possible at events like this. The entire day's activities were well organized and the lines moved quickly when the doors opened. This was obviously not their first rodeo.

Do yourself a favor and pay Rock & Brews a visit and before you leave, try the cheesecake. It's amazing.