Deep in the Heart of Dallas with Anthony Robinson
Robinson talks food, plants, and neighborhood favorites.
Welcome to Deep in the Heart of Dallas! Our latest series, focused on sharing the stories of the Dallas Black community, follows local creatives through the city to learn about favorite spots, must-taste foodie finds and how the city inspires their work. Today, we're featuring Anthony Robinson, owner of Energy Gardens. His Deep Ellum-based plant shop is a testament to his childhood hobbies that have turned into his lifestyle and job. Let's take a deep dive into Anthony's story!
Tell us about your love plants and journey to being a shop owner…
Since I was a kid, I've always had plants and animals. I used to collect bugs and lizards, spider sand rocks, sneaking things into the house. Years ago, when I was working in a corporate setting, I made a Valentine's gift for someone and everyone liked what I did. Eventually, everyone had some type of plant of mine on their desk in their cubicle. It created a better vibe. I realized I wanted my days to be better and not live for the weekend. I had a lot of talents, but I knew I needed to pick one to concentrate on. Not a lot of people at the time were in the lane of plants, especially people that look like me. It was always in me, I just figured out a way to make a living off of it. I started at Trader's Village and once I started doing terrariums I transitioned the business into plants. Then I went to the Dallas Farmer's Market and stayed there for like six years. Now I have my own space in Deep Ellum.
What makes Dallas home?
My dad's side is from Alabama, and my mom's side is from Arkansas. Years ago, their parents migrated over here and created their own families and family trees. I've been living in Dallas in different parts of Oak Cliff mostly. We're building our own type of culture, borrowing from here and there, from different places around the country – we're creating our own.
Where's your favorite place to eat in Dallas?
My favorite place to eat is Wingfield's. I grew up there and walked there every weekend to get a burger. That's my all-time favorite place to eat. They've won so many awards. A lot of people know about them now, but I've been going there since the '80s. My go-to is just a cheeseburger – I can't handle the double. I don't even get the fries, just a cheeseburger – no tomatoes.
Where can we find you on a weekend afternoon?
Probably here in the lounge. Even though we close at 7pm, there are always friends and family that stop by. We'll turn it into an event and sit and listen to music, maybe order some food and watch a game or movie. I'm here more than I am at home, and it looks and feels like a home so it's easy to do.
Tell us about a neighborhood you love.
I love Oak Cliff, the neighborhood I grew up in. Big T Bazaar is a place I would visit and used to work from 14-15 years old. They had a pet store, and I was selling pythons and iguanas. Oak Cliff is a different place than what it was when I was younger. It's my favorite neighborhood because it made me who I am.
What's your go-to place to take out-of-towners?
Either Bishop Arts or Deep Ellum. I'm always ordering food from The Free Man. I rarely go down there to listen to the music or sit and eat, but I'll order some gumbo or some wings. I love that place.
What is your favorite Dallas memory?
When I was in junior high - I went to Greiner – we'd leave school, catch the DART, and go to the Dallas Cowboys parades. This was in the early '90's when the Cowboys were winning back-to-back Super Bowls. It was a long time ago, but that was a moment I'll never forget. I wasn't even into sports, I'm still not into sports – but there was so much energy in the city at the time.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
For more people to know about the space. We need plants. We're in the house, or at work for 8 -10 hours a day, and we need to bring nature inside. You need to have different living beings around you. You can't be the only living thing in the house, that's not even natural. You need other things that are growing around you. Plus they help clean and purify your air. You need plants like you need water.
To learn more about Energy Gardens, Anthony, and what he's up to in Dallas, follow Energy Gardens on Instagram: @EnergyGardens
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