A former Denison night club, and long-time fixture of Texoma Parkway may soon get new life as one of the city’s newest dining options. The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for a new food truck park at in what was once the Calhoun’s night club.


Over the years, the red, barn-style building has been home to several night clubs, including Calhoun’s and T-Bird’s. However the site has remained vacant and in disuse.


"Some of you might know this as the old Calhoun’s building," Denison Planner Bill Medina said. "The applicant is want to make significant renovations to the property, to the parking lot and to the building, which gives us enough room to support this rezone."


Under the plans for redevelopment, the property will be converted into a food truck park featuring both indoor and outdoor amenities. Developers for the project said the site would feature a rotating list of food trucks that change out on a weekly basis.


The inside of the building will be rebuilt and feature seating, games, televisions for sporting events and a bar that will serve beer and wine. Additional seating will be available on an outside patio.


The project is being led by contractor, who remembers the building’s heyday as Calhoun’s and met his wife there. However, after leaving the region for about 20 years, he returned to Texoma to find the popular night spot not as he remembered.


"We’ve since then have come back and have our kids and grand kids here," he said. "We drive by there so much and see it abandoned and thought we had to do something with that building."


Reed said the site was built around 1981 as a steakhouse, but only kept that use for about 18 months. In 2018, the Denison city council pushed back against efforts to return the site to its life as a night club when it denied a planning request.


Over the past year Reed and his family have worked on developing the site into Jake’s Place, the food truck park which will be named after his 17-year-old autistic son.


"We started meeting with the applicant in January to help get their vision on paper," Medina said.


Reed stressed during Tuesday’s P&Z meeting that he doesn’t plan to bring back the days of Calhoun’s and the various other nightclubs that called the site home. Instead, he said he plans to create a family-friendly attraction where people can listen to live music on the weekends, see comedy acts and enjoy good food in a relaxed atmosphere.


"We are not trying to open up a night club or anything. We are trying to open up a family-oriented food truck park where families can come and enjoy themselves," he said. "We’ve opened up the area quite a bit."


Medina said city staff initially had some concerns regarding the mixture of foot and vehicle traffic at the site. However, he said the applicants plan to separate the two uses through new and improved landscaping on the site. Reed also said he plans to have awnings extending from the building to the food truck area, further marking off the site.


"If we are going to have people walking back and fourth to get food, we want to make sure there is some separation there," Medina said.


The commission asked how the operations would work under current restrictions regarding bars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medina said the location would likely operate similarly to the Green Growler on Main Street, which currently offers alcoholic beverages to to, with no on-site consumption.


Reed said the location is positioned well to operate during the ongoing pandemic and calls for social distancing. The interior of the 12,000-square-foot building will offer significant space for dinners. If restaurants were restricted to 50 percent capacity, the site would still be able to allow in 300 diners.


The site could also prove to be a boon to other food trucks in the area. Reed said the park will also include a commissary that will allow operators a place to prepare their food prior to opening for daily operations. Such services are often a requirement for food truck operations and permitting.


Despite moving in a new direction with the site, Reed said he plans to decorate the interior of the site with pictures and memories of the building’s past life as Calhoun’s and other businesses.


"People are going to know this building as Calhoun’s," he said. "If you have lived here for 40 years, that’s what you know it as."


The next hurdle for the project will come when the plans are presented before the Denison City Council in August.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.