Two charming and original new concepts by Duro Hospitality have opened on Lower Greenville Avenue: Café Duro, an Italian wine-and-coffee bar, has boldly patterned interiors inspired by the great Milanese architect and designer Renzo Mongiardino. Nestled above the cafe is Casa Duro, a trio of stylish short-term lease apartments brimming with exquisite furnishings, antiques, and art. The apartments are available to book directly through the website or via Airbnb, and guests can have food and drinks sent up from the cafe, while a private dining room in one of the apartments is designed for hosting dinners catered by Sister, Duro’s trattoria next door that opened last year.
Hotelier Benji Homsey is one of four co-founders of Duro Hospitality, whose portfolio also includes Dallas Design District hot spots 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,” Homsey shares. “We feel like it’s an incredible collection of uses in a neighborhood that’s vibrant, with a great demographic and substantial traffic.”
Italian food and design are threads that run through all Duro Hospitality concepts. Homsey and restaurateur Chas Martin, another Duro co-founder, traveled extensively along the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Florence, and Rome, gathering inspiration, and their passion for Italy is woven into the DNA of everything they do. Café Duro has a walk-up espresso bar and standing bar tops. The menu offers Italian wines and beers along with 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 while in college, where he received a high dose of Italian culture and lifestyle, he says. “Whether it’s cars, suits, or antiques, the Italian approach to design is a bit of a rebel. I’m infatuated with that.” Corbin and his brother Ross See, another co-founder of Duro Hospitality, design all of Duro Hospitality’s interiors through their family-run firm, Sees Design.
Café Duro’s muted yellow-and-green palette and patterned tile floors were inspired by Giacomo, the Milanese ristorante designed by Mongiardino, who often faux-painted marble details in his interiors. For the Café, Corbin used umber and gray marbleized wallpapers and patterned porcelain tile floors that reference antique floors throughout Italy.
A striking patterned banquette has a seat upholstered in a Deco-inspired geometric fabric by Pierre Frey, with a backrest covered in a classic scenic pattern designed by Timothy Corrigan for Perennials. The overall effect of so many different patterns is exhilarating. “In terms of design,” says Corbin, “Café Duro is so outside the box — but it works.”
Casa Duro, a Unique Retreat in Dallas
Upstairs, Casa Duro’s one- and two-bedroom apartments are named after the moms of Duro founders — Susanna, Marcia, and Priscilla — and are equipped with espresso machines and kitchens ideal for cooking freshly made pasta and sauces that 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 history and soul with classic furnishings that feel collected and inherited. “My journey with Duro has made me put a spotlight on traditional design because it’s both timeless and easy to mix with current pieces.”
Much of the furniture in the apartments is by American furniture maker Dessin Fournir, which faithfully reproduced European antiques by hand, often finishing them with 22K gold and rare wood veneers. The company — once a favorite of such top designers as Michael S. Smith, Mark D. Sikes, and Steven Gambrel — left a trove of exquisite inventory after it closed in 2019.
Corbin purchased 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 the design-obsessed, where Corbin found a mid-20th-century green sofa. A beautiful Hästens daybed, made in Sweden, was discovered in Dallas at Vinya.
Aubusson rugs by Stark add to the heirloom feel, and lively patterned linen draperies were designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber for Le Gracieux. Headboards in the bedrooms are by The Inside, which has partnered with European fabric houses Old World Weavers and Scalamandré. Bedding is from Parachute Home and much of the art is from Corbin’s personal collection, amassed from vintage and antiques stores over the years.
The new Casa concepts have started the wheels of imagination turning at Duro Hospitality. “It’s directing bigger projects we are working on and becoming building blocks of future ideas,” Homsey says. Upcoming projects include a new 4,800-square-foot concept down the street from The Charles, the details of which Homsey is keeping hush-hush for now. Duro is also working on concepts on the corner of Knox and Travis Streets, in the historic former Highland Park Pharmacy location, due to open in late fall or early next year.