Although he didn't start playing the piano until age 19, Casey Thomas let his hard work and natural talent carry him to a career as a professional musician. His wife Samantha followed a more traditional path, playing as a child before earning valuable experience as a singer/songwriter and music instructor in cities throughout Texas. Now the leaders of the Creative Soul School of Music, the two bring their own experiences together in support of a shared mission: providing a nurturing environment where young musicians can hone their innate skills and discover their confidence. “We’re trying to get to those kids who are trying to figure out their identity, where they fit in, where they can find a home,” Casey says. To that end, the school tailors private lessons and classes to suit each student’s passion, be it songwriting, orchestral layering, or technical proficiency in headbanging. Year-round, the school dots the local sonic landscape with trimesters of student band classes for children and adults, as well as one-week and shorter summer rock camps that pair up learners of the same age and experience level. Welcoming all proficiencies, instructors tout an ability to nurture struggling learners, who ultimately build the confidence to perform live shows at venues around the region.
Sisters Eliana and Valeria both discovered Zumba during challenging times in their lives⎯Valeria while fighting obesity and Eliana while helping her late husband through cancer treatments. These past experiences inform the sisters’ approaches to the dance classes they lead. Valeria creates a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment for students of all fitness levels, and Eliana wants to offer her students the same freedom and escape she found during one-hour Zumba workouts. Both ladies are certified instructors and teach several subspecies of Zumba dance, including Zumbatomic for children and Zumba Gold for seniors, beginners, and prenatal students. Zumba People also tries to foster a sense of community among its students, hosting costumed dance parties for Halloween and orchestrating the occasional flash mob. Classes are held six days a week, and schedules for the Hurst and Southlake locations vary.
Mike French and Todd Hoffman, inspired by the burger joints and Mexicali burritos of their native Southern California, opened OC Burgers: a sit-down eatery where diners can dive into voluminous selections of both culinary offerings. Half-pound Black Angus burgers come topped with scoops of guacamole or teriyaki pineapple, and 14-inch tortillas envelop carnitas or carne asada. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Patricia Rodriguez called the bacon cheeseburger “very good indeed … with charred edges and a juicy interior.” She also marveled at the size of the carne asada burrito, which she described as having, “strips of tender flank steak … marinated in orange juice and cilantro” with “more complex flavors than other carne asadas.” On the restaurant’s large TV, a looping video of the sunrise prompts roosters to continually announce the all-day breakfast menu, which includes breakfast burritos, omelets, and plates of pancakes or french toast.
Though Papa G's Sports Bar & Grill churns out a menu of hearty eats—from decadent cheese-stuffed burgers to spicy buffalo wings—the real draw of the joint is its fun, laid-back atmosphere. A spacious patio lined with shaded tables welcomes guests to sip on one of the daily drink specials, shoot the breeze with friends, or catch a live show. Inside, a tall, lofted ceiling overlooks multiple pool tables, dartboards, and a dance floor that, during weekly events, becomes packed with swaying customers and antsy former boy-band members looking to strut their stuff one last time.
Metroplex Photo Booth’s open-air photo stations allow even large groups of revelers to stuff themselves into memorable strips. The self-service booths instruct their inhabitants via an LCD monitor, showing the camera’s footage in real time so parties can form attractive tableaus, whether in black and white or color. An attendant remains with the booth at all times to help technologically confused guests, dispense unlimited photo strips, and teach smiling to anyone who missed that day in school. The memory catchers offer a number of additional amenities to personalize the experience including magnetic frames, scrapbooks, and props.
From a menu featuring one-pound, build-your-own burritos to a series of colorful murals depicting the dish’s origin and ingredients, it’s clear that Bad Azz Burrito takes burritos very seriously. The eatery challenges customers to match their ardor with burrito challenges that offer spots on the shop's wall of fame for consuming 3–11 pounds of tortillas, meat, rice, and cheese. The open-minded chefs are also receptive to customers' burrito-filling suggestions, such as obscure combinations of meat or crushed candy corn.