The Parisian Coffee Shop in Fort Worth reopens – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Paris Coffee Shop on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Hemphill Street has been a favorite haunt of locals and tourists alike for decades.
The restaurant closed last fall for a top-to-bottom renovation, a six-month revamp that respects the past but pushes Paris into the present.
“You have to come in with a respect for that legacy and what it carries and the story behind it. I felt like we did a good job of doing our homework and understanding the roots of what was Paris Coffee shop and we are carrying that in this redesign,” said new owner, operator Chris Reale.
Industry veteran Reale, chef-restaurateur Lou Lambert and developer Mark Harris bought the restaurant last year from longtime owner Mike Smith. Smith took the place of her father who bought her in 1926 from a guy named Vic Paris.
Between father and son, the Smiths ran the business for nearly 100 years. Smith ended a 55-year career in family restaurants last spring. But before handing over the keys, Reale took the time to learn from Smith before embarking on the project.
“Right before closing, I ended up working in the kitchen here. I really wanted to immerse myself in the clientele, the flow of the kitchen, the flow of the restaurant because I had a lot of ideas that I gave up on. because I saw how things worked. And you have to be able to apply what worked, don’t change it, but update it and make it work here,” Reale said.
Original kitchen equipment from the 70s like the hot plate. “For me, it’s part of the nostalgia for what Paris was and is. We want to reintroduce that and train our staff for that,” Reale said. The majority of the kitchen staff know how this griddle works as 80% are still there, including Cleveland Arner, handpicked to carry on the pies Mike Smith made famous.
“One of the things that people really enjoy is my pies. They’re all homemade pies,” Smith told NBC5 in April 2021 while talking about stacked meringue pies. “I’m known for pies all over the United States.”
The servers whose customers have seen smiles for years have returned. Trubie Wickersham, Sue Fern and Rainey Noblett worked in Paris for almost five decades. Reale’s mother, Mona Reale Owens, a restaurant industry veteran, is the manager and has trained the servers on a new computer system that will make their jobs easier and give diners a better experience.
Counter service where people rush to the bar for a home-cooked meal is still part of the new Paris.
“We will still have all the original blue breakfast dishes. So nothing will go away. We will still have special blue dishes every day, but again we have to create new ones, so we will add a dinner and we’ll also be open seven days a week,” Reale said.
“You can count on old favourites, as well as expanded offerings that will attract new customers. We will have blue dishes, as well as chicken fried steak, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken for lunch and dinner, and steak and fish,” says Lambert. “For breakfast you’ll have bacon, eggs, waffles and pancakes, plus a few new things like baby Dutch.”
And, for the first time in 96 years, Paris is now serving alcohol.
“Change is inevitable. We have to make this thing relevant, but not forget our history behind it,” Reale said.
The owners invested time and money in a major facelift which began last September. They gutted the building, stripped it down from floor to ceiling, and let old images guide their vision.
“That’s what got me thinking that if we’re going to do this thing, we’re going to have to rearrange it anyway. Let’s keep it the same in the layout sense, but back to what ‘He was really, really in his 40s and 50s,’ said Reale, who grew up in Fort Worth and went to Paris as a kid.
“I grew up going to the Paris Coffee Shop all the time, just like my dad when he was at TCU,” says Lambert, whose father, Hal Lambert, regularly went to the coffee shop with his 1940s football buddies and of the early 1950s. teams. “They are still loyal to Paris, so we want to recapture the vibe of those early days, both inside and out.”
The blue meter now appears orange, and there are two of them. Each with new sets of stools in what Reale calls “Paris blue”. “The original bar stools were this blue color, so I wanted to respect that as well.” he said.
The main dining room has banquettes and tables, as always. The kitchen shipping area with a pass-through window remains in place at the back of the dining area. And down the long hallway leading to the restrooms and new private dining spaces, customers will find enlargements of the historic black-and-white photos Paris Coffee Shop was famous for. These are divided into historical sections relating to Fort Worth, TCU, and Paris Coffee Shop during Mike Smith’s time.
“It’s all about our attempt to make this thing relevant and give it all the respect it deserves,” he said.
Reale believes in food and in facelift, diners will find the Paris Coffee Shop they’ve known and loved, but with extras that will make it the go-to restaurant for decades to come.
704 W. Magnolia Ave.
Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for breakfast and lunch
Look for dinner service soon