For some of the early staff members, it was not uncommon to hear “Why would anyone open an aquarium in downtown Dallas?” We could now respond, “Why not – it works?” In going back through all the archives from the past 20 years, we found a better, actual answer. As the owner explained, his interest in aquariums started early.
“I have always been interested in and fascinated by the colors, survival techniques, and calmness of sea life. This started at an early age, ranging from simple freshwater goldfish bowls to larger attempts at various saltwater combinations. Looking back at what seemed like major crises to a 10-year-old now can be considered mere learning experiences – miniature orange seahorses being overturned in orange shag carpet, fish noted for their ability to sail over the tops of aquariums, and water temperature able to rise on its own to near boiling.”
After graduating from The University of Texas-Austin and working a short time for a catering company, the owner decided to try the catering profession on his own, in a luncheon restaurant, Daryl’s by Design in the Design District. The entrance at this site was home to a colorful reef system that contained huge triggers, Caribbean angelfish and a large moray eel. Again this was apparently not without problems, as described –
“The large moray somehow crawled out to pay a visit during a cocktail party and the largest queen trigger managed to consume the most liked damselfish. I was not to be deterred . . . I added 500-gallon and 1,000-gallon tanks in the dining room. People would specifically come to Daryl’s by Design to see the fish.”
The catering business rapidly expanded with more than 100 off-premise dinner parties in one month. In addition to local business, Daryl’s by Design was adding new national/international clients, one being Cessna Aircraft. The longevity of this relationship is rare among businesses. Like the anniversary of DWA, we just completed the recent EAA Event 2012 in Oshkosh, WI.
What started out as a catering/restaurant venture, is still that, but overshadowed by a facility full of some of nature’s most intriguing species.