This is kind of a grim reaper's version of our semi-regular roundup of Fort Worth restaurant news, with a rather long list of closures. February has not been a good month for Fort Worth's restaurant scene. But there are also openings, new menus, awards, and contests to cheer us up.
Bad news first, then good, here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news:
Pop's Safari Room, a West 7th pioneer that specialized in cigars and fine wines and was one of the last remaining businesses in Fort Worth where you could have a drink and a smoke, is closing at the end of February. The establishment, which had been in business since 1996, posted a farewell on their Facebook page "with a heavy heart," and a thanks "to everyone that has supported this family-owned small business and invite everyone to continue the legacy of Pop's by supporting local establishments in your community. It has been an honor to fight for the cigar culture created by owners Perry & Pat Tong, with that heritage continuing into the future by everyone sharing all of the memories of Pop's that exist within every single one of us." Former employee Richard Wilkes offered thanks to Perry for "all he did for the community, cigar, film making, TV, and West 7th. A bit of history is going away. Pops will be missed."
Austin City Taco Co., a fast-casual taqueria in the Cultural District, closed in mid-February, after three years. The restaurant blamed supply delays due to COVID-19 and inflation as the reasons contributing to its closure. Austin City was founded by Cameron Powell, a Fort Worth resident and UT alumnus who drew his inspiration from Austin's taquerias, and hired high-dollar design group Plan B as well as Juan Rodriguez, chef and owner of Magdalena's, to help realize his vision.
East Hampton Sandwich Co., the Dallas-based chain, quietly closed its West Bend location at 1605 S. University Dr., near TCU "a couple of months ago," an employee said. It had been open in what was a former Smashburger since 2014.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries at 313 Houston St., has closed after 10 years. A Sundance Square spokesman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the restaurant "was a good Sundance tenant and will be missed," but that there are "discussions" with other restaurants. The Virginia-based chain still has Fort Worth locations at 4833 S. Hulen St. and 9180 North Fwy., plus Arlington, Euless, and North Richland Hills.
Cotton Patch Cafe closed its location in Grapevine at 129 S. Main St., #155. There's still a Grapevine location at 4020 William D. Tate Ave., one of 17 locations still open across DFW. The chain, which also has restaurants in Oklahoma and New Mexico, serves classic Southern dishes, such as chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and chicken and dumplings.
Steel City Pops has closed its location in Southlake, at 1151 E. Southlake Blvd. in the Park Village center. The small Alabama-based gourmet ice cream pop shop chain has been in shrinking mode, closing locations in East Dallas (now home to a Baldo's Ice Cream) and Dallas' Greenville Avenue (slated to become a Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams). Hey maybe Jeni's or Baldo's will open in Southlake, too. The Fort Worth Steep City Pops is still open, one of only two in the entire chain, along with the original in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Dogwood Fort Worth has opened at at 1100 Foch St., in the former Times Ten Cellar spot, where it's hosting food, drinks, and live music in an indoor-outdoor space. Part of Carmack Concepts, from Brad and Chad Womack and Jason Carrier, The Dogwood Fort Worth joins a portfolio with two locations in Austin, one in Houston, and one in Nashville, plus sibling Electric Feelgood in Houston. Their menu features Southern favorites, and they're also dog-friendly.
Marco's Pizza, a Toledo, Ohio-based chain, has a new location in Weatherford at 138 College Park #110. Owner Markus Lawson and his father previously owned a trucking company in the oil field, but were attracted to Marco's dough made daily, proprietary cheese blend, and secret sauce recipe, as well as their build-your-own pizza and signature Pizza Bowls. Avid veteran supporters, they give a 10 percent discount to all veterans in the community.
Flips is a new bar in Denton located in the Idiot's Hill neighborhood at 1125 E. University Dr. #101, where they're offering cocktails, bottled beers for $3 or less, dartboards, a few big-screen TVs, and two pool tables. Owner Barbra "Flipper" Reynolds tells the Denton Record Chronicle that they wanted "a small, hometown feeling type bar."
Black Rock Coffee Bar, the growing Oregon-based chain with 100-plus stores across seven states, has opened its ninth location in Texas in Arlington, in the Green Oaks community at 5723 I-20 between Kelly Elliott Road and West Green Oaks Boulevard.
Perry's Steakhouse is featuring two limited-edition bar offerings during February: The Mini Martini Trio includes three 2.5-ounce pours of the Perry Berry Mule, Lavender Bee Mine, and Bubbly Black Rose for $15. A Reserve Red Flight has three 2-ounce pours of Perry’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Perry’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Perry’s Reserve Big Red Blend for $25.
Schlotzsky's is teaming with Joey Fatone to launch the new Fatone Calzone inspired by the former boy band superstar (NSync) and his love for Italian flavors, plus two additional calzones, the BBQ Chicken and the French Dip, starting at $10.29. The Fatone Calzone has ham, Genoa and Cotto salami, pepperoni, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses paired with a marinara dipping sauce. The French Dip has roast beef, mushrooms, onions, and mozzarella cheese with au jus. The BBQ Chicken Calzone has chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheddar, BBQ sauce, red onions, and pickled jalapeños.
Carrabba's Italian Grill has new dishes for Lent including Champagne pasta with shrimp, featuring linguine pasta tossed with shrimp in champagne cream sauce with red bell peppers and mushrooms.
Quiznos has brought back the Lobster Classic Sub with lobster-seafood salad and shredded lettuce on toasted Italian white bread; and the Old Bay Lobster Club, which has Old Bay seasoning, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mayo.
On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina has two new margarita flavors: The SkyRita is a grande frozen house margarita topped with a citrus wheat Blue Moon Light Sky beer. The Mangonada is a sweet mango margarita combined with chamoy and spicy Tajin Clasico Seasoning.
Bread Zeppelin has been named one of America’s Hottest Startup Fast Casuals by QSR, the quick-service industry’s leading trade publication. The 40 brands on the list have less than 40 locations, and also include Grub Burger from Bryan, Loro from Austin, Son of a Butcher from Dallas, and Grumps Burgers in Granbury.
H-E-B supermarket chain is inviting entries for the 2022 H-E-B Quest for Texas Best competition – looking for the most creative goods made in Texas. That can include food creators, beauty items, toys, home goods, household necessities, gardening supplies, and more. Submissions will be accepted from February 23-April 7, with a combined $70,000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to feature their product on H-E-B shelves. More info can be found at heb.com/quest.
Stephanie Allmon Merry contributed a bunch to this story.