Have you ever had a favorite little watering hole you’re so enamored with you think, “Someday, I’m going to open a place like this”?
For Lisa and Will Murphy of Preston Hollow, that someday came in late July when they opened Zest Café in Snider Plaza. The opening was the culmination of two years of dreaming and planning, designing, and dining.
Lisa, an Oklahoma City native, graduated from Southern Methodist University for undergrad and law school and moved to New York City for work.
Will, a former professional soccer player, was born and raised in the northeast and, after soccer, joined a family firm in New York. Lisa and Will met in 2011 and, in 2013, were married.
In Manhattan’s West Village, they frequented small coffee shops/juice bars that served coffee, drinks, snacks, and a cool vibe to the neighborhood. With their family growing, the Murphys relocated to Dallas to be closer to friends and family. That’s when they started planning in earnest the restaurant that would eventually become Zest Café.
“We wanted a café that we could use as a family,” Will told me in the main dining room of Zest, a place brimming with positive energy and light. That means serving clean food, healthy options for kids and adults, and, of course, premium coffee and juices.
“The restaurant has no freezers or fryers,” he added. The menu is inspired by dishes Lisa and Will had in New York perfected by a local recipe developer.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Zest Café’s menu is compact, with fewer than 10 items on the breakfast and lunch menus.
Zest’s breakfast business is bustling, with guests having business meetings and parents enjoying a leisurely breakfast after drop-off. Park Cities residents, including Ann Fielder, rave about the Farm Egg and Avocado Toast, which Fielder proclaims is “Divine! Best ever!”
I’m inclined to believe it; the baked goods here are from Bresnan Bread and Pastry, one of the best.
The lunch options are a huge hit, as evidenced by the comments from locals who have proclaimed the kale Caesar salad and herbed chicken tzatziki wrap “crazy good” and “AMAZING!” This is also indicated by the packed dining room, filled with Park Cities and Preston Hollow people who flock there to support the Murphys, who are ever present and always gracious.
Dinner service, launched after Labor Day, includes entrée salads, sandwiches, and shareables. There is also a full bar tucked in the back of the restaurant.
Will Murphy isn’t a restauranter, but he is a process guy and a former professional athlete. He knows how to get things done and collaborate with others. He believes in the need for a community gathering spot, a place where families can enjoy quality food in a bright, positive space.
“I can see opening a few more locations of Zest in other communities,” he said.
That would be great.