Paris Coffee Shop is one of Fort Worth’s oldest and best loved establishments. They’ve been serving up delicious breakfasts, some of the best comfort food in town (seriously, if you haven’t tried their chicken and dumplings, I feel sorry for you!), and those pies since 1926. Coconut meringue. Pecan. Peanut butter chocolate. Lemon Meringue. All are delicious – rich fillings in a flaky crust, and the meringue is ethereal. Generations of Fort Worthians have grown up eating Paris Coffee Shop’s pies.
Madeworthy recently sat down with owner, Mike Smith, to talk about the history, the future, and, of course, the pies, of Paris Coffee Shop.
Madeworthy: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Mike. Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Paris Coffee Shop?
Mike Smith: My dad, Gregory K. Smith, bought the restaurant in 1926 from the original owner, Vic Paris. Back then, it was located right across Hemphill from our current location. This was the edge of town in those days, and Paris Coffee Shop was one of the only places on Magnolia. Now this building was built in 1927 and was originally a Safeway grocery store. We moved across the street to this location in 1974 and bought the building in 2002.
MW: You’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. What has it been like during this Near Southside renaissance?
MS: Well, other than this year, it’s been a big change. With all of the residential building and renovations going on in the neighborhood we’ve seen a lot more young people coming in. Our customers have tended to be an older crowd, but now it’s getting younger. 2020 has been very hard, but things are getting better. Our breakfast business hasn’t peaked yet, but lunch especially has been picking up.
MW: That’s good to hear, and it gets me thinking about your food. Generations of Fort Worthians have grown up eating here. What are some of their favorites?
MS: Well, we have our daily specials and Thursday is Chicken and Dumplings, so we’re always busy on Thursdays. And, of course, our pies.
MW: Yes. Let’s talk about pie. What are your biggest sellers?
MS: Coconut meringue and chocolate meringue are our best sellers usually, but there’s some seasonality to the pies, too. With the weather starting to cool off, pecan pie always gets more popular. There’s something about fall that makes people want pecan pie.
MW: Speaking of fall, Thanksgiving is coming up. Do you do a Thanksgiving meal or is it all about the pies?
MS: We don’t do a Thanksgiving meal, but we do a cornbread dressing that we make up beforehand and freeze, and we do pie orders. We usually do about 500 pies for Thanksgiving. It’s our biggest holiday.
MW: 500 Pies! How long in advance do you start taking pie orders for Thanksgiving?
MS: Usually about ten days before the holiday, we start taking orders. We’re closed on Thanksgiving, so most people come pick up their pies on the Wednesday, and we always make some extra pies for walk-ins. As long as people give me a one-day heads–up, we can make them a pie. We’re open the Friday after Thanksgiving, but we’re not too busy. People are still working on Thanksgiving leftovers.
MW: You said Thanksgiving is your biggest holiday. Christmas isn’t as busy for you?
MS: No. People seem to have all kinds of traditions with their Christmas celebrations. Some folks will just do cheeseburgers or BBQ. There’re other things going on at Christmas, but Thanksgiving is built around the meal. It’s all about good food and desserts. We still do a lot of Christmas pie orders, but not like Thanksgiving.
MW: What about the future of Paris Coffee Shop? Do you have kids or grandkids who are interested in taking over the family business?
MS: My son Troy works here with me, and I expect he’ll take over one of these days.
After 95 years of continuous operation, through a world war and a pandemic, Paris Coffee Shop has remained a Fort Worth icon. With the heir apparent in the wings and the fact the Smiths own their building, the future looks bright. As Mike says, “Paris Coffee Shop is here to stay.”
And we are grateful.