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Downtown Fort Worth businesses navigate aftermath of Sandman hotel explosion

About 11 businesses are temporarily closed as city officials and first responders barricade streets surrounding the Sandman Signature Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, where an explosion occurred Jan. 8.
Sandra Sadek
Fort Worth Report
About 11 businesses are temporarily closed as city officials and first responders barricade streets surrounding the Sandman Signature Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, where an explosion occurred Jan. 8.

Graham Jackson felt the nearby explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel rattle his chest. That reverberation continued Tuesday for businesses nearby.

The business owner was doing inventory Monday afternoon at Basic Bar, 904 Houston St., when he was stunned by what he described as the loudest sound he’s ever heard. He ran outside to see what happened.

“It looked like a war zone,” Jackson said. “It was horrific.”

As officials, workers and area residents navigate the aftermath of the afternoon explosion at downtown Fort Worth’s Sandman Signature Hotel that injured 21, closed streets have caused nearby businesses to temporarily close. The owners of the newly opened restaurant inside the hotel’s basement, Musume, are waiting to inspect the damage. Other establishments, farther from the explosion, are open. And some did their best to support first responders.

Jackson hopes he can reopen as soon as possible. As the owner of a neighborhood bar with lower traffic, every day of business counts.

Josh Babb, co-owner of Musume, the Asian fusion and sushi restaurant located in the basement of the Sandman hotel, said the company is devastated by the explosion. The restaurant opened June 26, 2023.The restaurant was closed at the time of the incident, but three employees were injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. As of late morning Jan. 9, Babb said, two employees had been released; one remained in the hospital in stable condition.

Babb said in a statement that he is still not sure the extent of the damage.

“We have not been allowed to go inside or survey damage incurred as the building (and) site are under investigation,” Babb wrote to the Fort Worth Report.

Plans on whether to relocate or rebuild following the explosion haven’t been made.

The 40-45 Musume employees have been reassigned to jobs at parent company Rock Libations, which Babb co-owns. The company has nine restaurants across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he said. Musume also has a location in Dallas.

The Fort Worth fire and police departments closed the following streets surrounding the Sandman Signature Hotel:

-Throckmorton Street, from West 7th Street to West 9th Street.

-Houston Street, from West 7th Street to West 9th Street.

-West 8th Street, from Throckmorton Street to Main Street.

Businesses along those streets will remain temporarily closed. The businesses affected by the street closures, according to Becky Fetty, director of marketing and membership at Downtown Fort Worth Inc., include:

– J’s Burgers n’ More

– Barber’s Bookstore

– Thompson’s Bookstore

– La’Creamian

– The Winchester Tavern

– Basic Bar

– The Archibald

– Al Dente Italian Trattoria

– FedEx

– Peters Brothers Hats

– PlainsCapital Bank

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, located inside The Fort Worth Club at 777 Taylor St., closed its doors the night of the explosion and reopened Jan. 9. The chamber remained open as of Tuesday, but postponed its events, including the celebration of the chamber’s long-time employee, Netty Matthews.

“The Chamber stands ready to support our community during this difficult time, offering guidance and resources to our members,” Chamber President and CEO Steve Montgomery said in a statement. “The Sandman Signature Hotel, a valued member of the Fort Worth Chamber, has our full support in navigating through these challenging circumstances.”

Some business owners downtown who kept their doors open did what they could to help. Jon Bonnell, executive chef and owner of Bonnell Restaurant Group, said both of his restaurants, Buffalo Bros and Waters are blocks away from the explosion. He offered dinner and takeout to any first responders who showed up to the restaurant, which was open until 2 a.m.

“Hopefully, everybody can get back to their lives pretty soon,” Bonnell said.

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or @sbodine120.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.