Uncork'd in McKinney thrives despite ongoing coronavirus challenges

Uncork'd presents different menu options each day, including dishes contingent on the season and weather. The Dirty Fries are one of the most popular appetizers and include pulled pork, sour cream, a spicy mayo and a rojo sauce made out of tomatoes and red chilis. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Uncork'd presents different menu options each day, including dishes contingent on the season and weather. The Dirty Fries are one of the most popular appetizers and include pulled pork, sour cream, a spicy mayo and a rojo sauce made out of tomatoes and red chilis. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)

Uncork'd presents different menu options each day, including dishes contingent on the season and weather. The Dirty Fries are one of the most popular appetizers and include pulled pork, sour cream, a spicy mayo and a rojo sauce made out of tomatoes and red chilis. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Texas Heatloaf is a dish that celebrates Texas' affinity for spice and is one of the most popular Uncork'd dishes. It is cooked in a cast iron pan with a variety of spices for a small kick in flavor. It is also served in hoagie form. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The restaurant serves classic options in its appetizers, entrees and desserts, including this chocolate cake. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Uncork'd managing partner Cassandra Hernandez spent more than a decade in New York before returning to Texas. She and her husband, head chef Agustin Hernandez, and business partner Michael Baird strove to create a restaurant that celebrates McKinney's identity. (Mike Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
The COVID-19 crisis has been enough to throw any local restaurant for a loop, but a little bit of New York tenacity as well as Texas inspiration have allowed Uncork’d Bar & Grill to remain a McKinney favorite through leaner times.

Managing Partner Cassandra Hernandez said she has adjusted on the fly to keep her one-and-a-half-year-old restaurant, which specializes in local favorites and high-caliber wines and spirits, thriving. Her business partner, local fast food franchise owner Michael Baird, managed to relocate kitchen staff to other restaurants during the worst times.

“My business partner invested everything in cash,” said Hernandez, a culinary specialist who spent more than a decade in New York after being raised in Arlington. “We didn’t have a lot of outstanding debt. Of course, there’s the overhead. Especially in this area, that can be pretty high, but we were able to stay open and do takeout. Our business—before COVID[-19], we didn’t do a whole lot of takeout, but as soon as we started doing takeout, we started to do a whole lot of takeout, and the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission] allowed us to do alcohol to go.”

Another advantage Uncork’d had was the fact that it is local and holds strong to its identity. Hernandez said she and Baird wanted some distance between themselves and the chain restaurants that flock to the suburbs to establish their brand.

Then, there is the cuisine itself. With the exception of bread, which is baked in Dallas, all menu items are prepared in-house to complement the wines and spirits, most of which are produced in the United States. The restaurant has a handful of exceptions to celebrate other wines from Europe and Argentina.


The end result, Uncork’d, with its sleek interior and attention to plate presentation in the heart of McKinney, is here to stay after opening in November 2018, Hernandez said. A second location opened in Frisco just a week before the pandemic took hold in the area.

“The main idea was making it approachable and making it something you can come to on Monday night, Sunday afternoon or Friday night,” Hernandez said. “Our menu ranges from appetizers, salads, burgers, paninis and things like that at lunch. Then, at dinner, we do have some things like steaks and seafood. The idea for the community was to offer something for everyone.”

Uncork’d Bar & Grill

301 N. Custer Road, Ste. 180, McKinney

214-592-8841

www.uncorkdwinebar.com

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
By Miranda Jaimes
Miranda has been in the North Texas area since she graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014. She reported and did design for a daily newspaper in Grayson County before she transitioned to a managing editor role for three weekly newspapers in Collin County. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 covering Tarrant County news, and is now back in Collin County as the editor of the Frisco and McKinney editions.


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