Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here. Looking for a restaurant to treat Mom for Mother's Day? Find that list here.

1. New Fort Worth restaurant is serving real deal Cuban sandwiches & seafood. A Fort Worth food truck serving authentic Cuban food has made the leap to brick & mortar status: Lola's Cuban Food, which started out as a food truck stationed in downtown Fort Worth, just opened a companion restaurant where it's serving all of its Cuban classics, plus expanding the menu to include seafood and more restaurant-style entrees.

2. New French-inspired cafe in Arlington serves breakfast and brunch all day. There's an elegant, independently-owned breakfast and brunch restaurant newly opened in Arlington with some fresh and creative takes on the same old morning fare. Called Lac Bleu Brunch Cafe, it's a French-inspired brunch restaurant that just opened at 3990 N. Collins St. #116, in a small center across from Lake Viridian — "Lac Bleu" is French for "blue lake."

3. Step inside 6 historic charmers on the 2023 Fairmount home tour in Fort Worth. Now four decades strong, the Fairmount Historic District Tour of Homes has become a beloved Mother's Day weekend tradition in Fort Worth. For the 2023 edition, four bungalow-style homes and two historic businesses will open their doors to visitors, May 13-14. Here's a look at the homes.

4. These are the 17 can't-miss shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for May. Have you heard? Jesus has risen, and you can find him in The Colony. The world premiere of a major new musical is one of 17 — yes! 17! — shows opening in May, so don't ever complain about there being nothing to do in Dallas-Fort Worth. In order of start date, here are 17 local shows to watch this month.

5. Fort Worth's best-kept secret is this TCU team that just competed for an NCAA championship. In landlocked Fort Worth, beach volleyball might not be top of mind when it comes to recreational activities. After all, the nearest actual beach is at least a five-hour drive away. But that hasn’t stopped the TCU Horned Frogs from establishing themselves as a powerhouse in what’s touted as one of the fastest-growing collegiate sports in the nation.

TCU Beach Volleyball/Facebook

Fort Worth's best-kept secret is this TCU team that just competed for an NCAA championship

Net gains

In landlocked Fort Worth, beach volleyball might not be top of mind when it comes to recreational activities. After all, the nearest actual beach is at least a five-hour drive away.

But that hasn’t stopped the TCU Horned Frogs from establishing themselves as a powerhouse in what’s touted as one of the fastest-growing collegiate sports in the nation.

Last weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama, the TCU women's beach volleyball team entered the NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship tournament ranked No. 2 in the country. The “Sandy Frogs” went 37-3 this season and nearly faced No. 1 UCLA for the title before losing a tight matchup against No. 3 USC, who ended up winning the tournament as three-peat champions. Southern Cal has now won five championships.

Advancing to the NCAA Final Four this year (after sweeping No. 15 Stetson and No. 10 Stanford) was a first for TCU’s beach volleyball program, which was established in 2015. At the time, it was the only collegiate beach volleyball team in Texas, with colleges in coastal states like California and Florida dominating the field.

In 2016, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Houston Christian added the sport, and just this season the University of Texas joined in as the only other Big 12 school to currently offer beach volleyball. (It is currently offered exclusively as a women's sport in the NCAA.)

A big “spike” in interest
TCU Beach Volleyball head coach Hector Gutierrez, who was just named the American Volleyball Coaches Association "Coach of the Year," says interest in beach volleyball is rising for several reasons, including lots of playing time for athletes.

“We play with five teams (of two), but at the end of the day, you have just one partner on the court, and you have to be involved in every play,” he says. “Players feel more in touch with the ball. There’s more opportunity.”

Olympic play has also contributed to increased popularity. In fact, three of Gutierrez’s star players, Daniela Alvarez, Tania Moreno (who were just named the AVCA "Pair of the Year"), and Maria Gonzalez, will skip next season to try to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Gutierrez is confident his team will remain competitive next season with returning athletes and potential players available through the transfer portal. Since he joined the program in 2017, Gutierrez has led the Frogs to three NCAA championship tournament appearances in Gulf Shores, where white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and a lively entertainment district contribute to the excitement.

(Back home in Fort Worth, the TCU team practices and plays on sand courts on campus.)

Picturesque locations for tournaments that double as popular vacation destinations add to the allure of the sport for athletes, says Gutierrez. The now 17-team bracket tournament has been held in Gulf Shores since its inception in 2016 at The Hangout, a popular indoor-outdoor, beachfront bar, restaurant, and live music venue.

“Gulf Shores has provided an amazing championship experience for our student-athletes and fans,” says Kristin Fasbender, director of championships & alliances for the NCAA. “The competition venue is outstanding and the commitment by the community to grow the sport has been displayed over these past seven years.”

Fasbender says beach volleyball was the fastest sport to become an NCAA championship after being on the emerging sports list.

“Institutions are providing resources to grow their beach teams and add programs,” she says. “This sport continues to grow year in and year out because of its exciting nature and the passion of our institutions.”

Yet in Fort Worth, the team and the sport have stayed largely under the radar, especially compared to other sports that have put TCU in the national spotlight in recent years. The TCU beach volleyball team's Facebook page, for instance, has fewer than 3,000 followers. TCU football's page has 164,000 followers. Like most women's sports, the Sandy Frogs get little news coverage.

"On the weekends we get a lot of people, but are still trying to get more," says Gutierrez of home game attendance. "It’s very family-friendly. You see lots of families bringing their kids and alumni seeing each other. We’d always like to have more people. Everyone that comes seems to have great experience."

Beach volleyball vs. indoor volleyball
Those new to watching collegiate beach volleyball, as opposed to indoor volleyball, might be slightly confused upon arrival. First, there are multiple games going on at once, with five individual pairs – ranked 1 through 5 by skill level – playing an opponent pair of the same rank. (At TCU there are only four courts, so matches are played in two waves.) Each pair tries to win the best of three sets in a match, and the winning team is the first to take three of the five pairs’ matches. Sets are played to 21, except the third set (if needed), which is played to 15.

Second, don’t be surprised to see fans scurry from court to court, because as soon as one pair wins their match, the countdown is on for their teammates to do the same. Fans tend flock to whoever is closest to taking the next set.

If you’re used to watching indoor volleyball, you may also notice beach volleyball runs a tad slower in pace.

“The beach court is a little bit smaller than the indoor court, but there’s still a lot of court to cover, especially on the sand,” says Gutierrez. “The ball comes a little bit slower, but you still might have to run from one corner to the other. It’s a totally different strategy.”

Coaches also aren’t allowed to talk to players during actual play. It’s only during timeouts or side changes, which happens every seven points, that coaches can provide guidance. Gutierrez says it can be challenging to move from court to court, giving pointers to athletes in various locations.

Beach volleyball players must also endure the elements, like wind, sun, and even rain on occasion, which can make the ball heavier. But challenges aside, the continual positivity exuded by many college beach volleyball players is evident by the embraces between partners that seem to occur on both sides after every single play, good or bad.

“I tell the girls to hug each other. I feel it releases a lot of tension. It’s just you and your partner on the court. The personalities are different sometimes, but when you’re on the court, something needs to click,” says Gutierrez. “Some (coaches) tell their teams to do it and some others don’t. Hugging releases stress and says, ‘We’re close and we’re in this together.’”

To keep up with women's beach volleyball at TCU and catch a game next season, check their website and Facebook page.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Tasty restaurant news tops this week's 5 most-read Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. Fat tacos, crispy pepperoni pizza, and more Fort Worth restaurant news. We have lots of tasty restaurant dish in Fort Worth right now, including a new pizzeria, a new AYCE pizza buffet, and new limited-edition tacos. There's more than one fried chicken offering, and at least two pumpkin specials. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

2. Restaurant bullish on burgers and bourbon cocktails comes to Grapevine. A better burger concept from South Carolina is taking a crack at Texas: Bohemian Bull, a small chain founded in Charleston in 2013, has opened its first Texas location in Grapevine, featuring burgers and a full bar with 24 craft beer taps.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new Denton location. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Celebration ushers in new season with grace and gusto. Thunder crashed and lightning crackled outside, but a freak Friday night thunderstorm couldn’t dampen spirits at the Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Concert and Celebration on September 8.

5. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 9 best bars to watch college football. Three weeks into the season and college football is on fire. Here are nine of the best bars to visit for some college football-watching in Fort Worth right now - a mix of old favorites and a few new surprises.

Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with new location

Pizza News

A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

The location is a franchise owned by Kirk Jefferies, who also owns and operates franchises of Jason’s Deli and Chicken Express. This is his first Mr Gatti’s, but he has more locations planned.

“When people talk about Mr Gatti's Pizza, you can see a spark in their eyes. We love being able to bring that 'excitement' and combine it with our passion for pizza,” Jefferies says in a release. “Mr Gatti's Pizza has been satisfying cravings for over 50 years. It truly is an honor to be a part of this legacy brand that people cherish."

Menu favorites from about a dozen pizza options include The Sampler, The Deluxe with sausage, pepperoni, & smoked provolone, and BBQ chicken. A basic 12-inch cheese pizza with one topping is $12.

There are lunch specials from 10:30 am-3 pm including pepperoni rolls and salad for $10; 8 wings and salad for $13; and a medium pizza with 2 salads for $15.

The chain was first founded in Stephenville, Texas as The Pizza Place, in September 1964. In 1969, founder James Eure moved to Austin and opened the first Mr Gatti’s Pizza, named for his wife's maiden name.

They have a major presence in South Texas but only two in the DFW area: Plano and Allen.

There was a location that opened in Fort Worth in 2016, at 3280 W. Seventh St. in Museum Place, which at the time, was the first to use the Mr. Gatti’s name; the chain had been going by "Gatti's." So many name changes! It closed in 2018. There was also a location in North Richland Hills which opened in 2016 and closed in early 2019; and a location in Richardson that closed in 2018.

Back in the day they had a big buffet as well as a big game room, two features for which many longtime fans are nostalgic. But this location is just about the pizza.

There are now more than 70 locations in states across the Southeast, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.