Inside Casa Duro, the sleek micro-hotel above Sister Restaurant
Jtwo new charming and original concepts signed Duro Hospitality opened on Lower Greenville Avenue: Coffee Douro, an Italian wine bar and café, features boldly patterned interiors inspired by the great Milanese architect and designer Renzo Mongiardino. Tucked above the cafe is House Douro, a trio of elegant short-term apartments brimming with exquisite furnishings, antiques, and artwork. Apartments can be booked directly on the website or through Airbnb, and guests can have food and drinks sent to them from the cafe, while a private dining room in one of the apartments is designed to accommodate guests. dinners prepared by SisterDuro’s trattoria next door which opened last year.
Hotelier Benji Homsey is one of four co-founders of Duro Hospitality, whose portfolio also includes Dallas Design District hotspots The Charles and Bar Charles. The new Casa concepts are a first for Dallas. “Being able to provide amenities from Sister and Café Duro is unique for an Airbnb,” shares Homsey. “We feel like it’s an incredible collection of uses in a vibrant neighborhood, with great demographics and heavy traffic.”
Italian cuisine and design are common threads that run through all Duro Hospitality concepts. Homsey and restaurateur Chas Martin, another co-founder of Duro, have traveled extensively along the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Florence and Rome, for inspiration, and their passion for Italy is woven in the DNA of everything they do. Café Duro has a walk-in espresso bar and standing bar counters. The menu features Italian wines and beers as well as paninis, small pizzas and pastas – all freshly interpreted for Duro and handmade in Sister’s kitchen.
Interior designer Corbin See, co-founder of Duro Hospitality, studied in Florence during his university studies, where he received a strong dose of Italian culture and lifestyle, he says. “Whether it’s cars, costumes or antiques, the Italian approach to design is a bit rebellious. I’m in love with that. Corbin and his brother Ross See, another co-founder of Duro Hospitality, design all interiors for Duro Hospitality through their family business, Sees Design.
Café Duro’s understated yellow and green palette and patterned tile floors were inspired by Giacomo, the Milanese ristorante designed by Mongiardino, which often painted faux marble details into its interiors. For the Café, Corbin used ombre and gray marbled wallpapers and patterned porcelain tile floors that reference antique floors throughout Italy.
A strikingly patterned banquette has a seat upholstered in Pierre Frey’s deco-inspired geometric fabric, with a back upholstered in a classic scenic pattern designed by Timothy Corrigan for Perennials. The overall effect of so many different designs is exhilarating. “In terms of design,” says Corbin, “Café Duro is so off the beaten path – but it works.”
Casa Duro, a Unique Dallas Retreat
youUpstairs, Casa Duro’s one- and two-bedroom apartments are named after the mothers of Duro’s founders – Susanna, Marcia and Priscilla – and are equipped with espresso machines and kitchens ideal for cooking pasta and sauces freshly prepared which can be purchased prepackaged from the Café.
“I designed the apartments to feel like a pied-à-terre in Italy,” says Corbin, who gave each space a story and a soul with classic furnishings that feel collected and inherited. “My journey with Duro has made me emphasize traditional design because it’s both timeless and easy to mix with current pieces.”
Much of the furnishings in the apartments come from American furniture maker Dessin Fournir, who have faithfully reproduced European antiques by hand, often finishing them with 22-karat gold and rare wood veneers. The company – once a favorite of top designers such as Michael S. Smith, Mark D. Sikes and Steven Gambrel – left behind an exquisite treasure trove of inventory after it closed in 2019.
Corbin bought the furniture last year at a special sale, which included Dessin Fournir founder Chuck Comeau’s own collection of antiques and original prototypes. A screen with scenic panels in one of the apartments is a prototype from Comeau’s personal collection.
Other furniture came from sources like Obsolete, an online favorite for design obsessives, where Corbin found a mid-20th-century green sofa. A beautiful Hästens daybed, made in Sweden, was discovered in Dallas at Vinya.
Stark’s Aubusson rugs add to the heirloom feel, and vividly patterned linen draperies were designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber for Le Gracieux. The headboards in the bedrooms are by The Inside, which has partnered with European fabric houses Old World Weavers and Scalamandré. The bedding is from Parachute Home and much of the art is from Corbin’s personal collection, amassed in antique and antique stores over the years.
New Casa concepts have set the wheels of the imagination spinning at Duro Hospitality. “It’s about leading larger projects that we’re working on and becoming building blocks for future ideas,” says Homsey. Upcoming projects include a new 4,800 square foot concept on rue du Charles, which Homsey is keeping quiet about for now. Duro is also working on concepts at the corner of Knox and Travis streets, in the former historic location of the Highland Park Pharmacy, which is slated to open in late fall or early next year.
Casa Duro, $375 to $450 per night, 2806 Greenville Ave., casa-duro.com; Cafe Duro, 2804 Greenville Avenue, cafe-duro.com; Sister, 2808 Greenville Ave., 214.888.8660, sempresister.com.