What do you get when you combine two guys with the last name of Berry, a Blue Heeler named Winslow, and a lot of cocktail napkins?
You get Winslow’s Wine Café, which has been serving Fort Worth good food, good wines, and great hospitality for almost 15 years. Madeworthy’s publisher Victoria Wise connected with Joe Berry (one of the two guys with the last name of Berry) to talk about what makes Winslow’s a place that’s Made in Fort Worth.
Victoria Wise: I lived on Thomas Place when Winslow’s opened in 2008. That area of Camp Bowie didn’t have a walkable hang out spot, and we were all so excited to see you open. What made you pick that spot?
Joe Berry: I spent over three months searching for a location. I knew that I wanted it on Camp Bowie between Montgomery and Interstate 30… There was a huge demand for a concept like Winslow’s for the neighborhood. I fell in love with the history of the [former] gas station. I had to have it.
VW: One of your biggest draws is your dining. How did you decide on a menu, and how has that evolved?
JB: We let the neighborhood create the menu. The first four years, we changed the menu every season… Every quarter we change about four times, [making sure to consider] guests’ requests.
VW: You certainly have your regulars; you’re a well-loved neighborhood spot. What do you think draws people back weekend after weekend?
JB: “I do not own Winslow’s; I just manage it for the neighborhood”. If I focus on this, I know they will always come back.
VW: You weren’t always in the food and wine business; tell us about your life before Winslow’s.
JB: I have always been in the hospitality business. Running a sporting event isn’t too different from running a restaurant. I started as a night driver for the Woodlands Inn in Houston. I worked my way up to a bellman to manager of guest services. When I was 24, they offered me a job as an account executive… I moved to be a sales manager to a conference center in Santa Cruz, California… then went to work at the Ojai Valley Inn. [Later] I became Director of Sales for PGA events… [before I was hired as] the tournament director of a new LPGA event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After four years, I received a call from the NBA which was starting up the NBA development league. The first year, we had five teams in the league; I was president. When I left to come to Fort Worth in 2000, there were 16 teams.
VW: What surprising things have you learned in this business?
JB: It asks for your life, and it will take it if you let it.
VW: Tell us about your happy hour and weekend brunch.
JB: We have happy hour Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 and on Sunday night from 4 to 9. There’s always a white, red, and a bubbly or rosé on the happy hour menu, as well as pizzas and appetizers. We offer 30% off bottles of wine on Sundays and Tuesdays.
VW: Tell us about your staff. I imagine they must feel like family.
JB: Covid has changed the fabric of everyone in the hospitality industry. We’re building a new family like everyone else. I am very excited with the foundation we have laid out and look forward to building on what we have.
VW: What’s the thing that makes you proud to be the owner of Winslow’s?
JB: One hundred percent, it’s the dog charities I get involved with in Tarrant County. There is nothing more satisfying raising 1,500 pounds of dog food for the city shelter or hosting the Winslow Memorial event for wine and dog lovers in the fall… Winslow’s allows me the freedom to get involved with giving, and for that, I will always be blessed.
VW: What’s your advice to aspiring restaurant and bar owners now that you are approaching 15 years in the business?
JB: You’ll hear a thousand times that you’re crazy to get in the restaurant business. It definitely takes a certain person to get in this industry. The best advice that was given to me is that there are times when you’re running the restaurant, and there are times the restaurant is running you. Knowing when the restaurant is running you is very important.