West Side Cafe gets new, very familiar, owners
By Scott Nishimura
West Side Cafe, the Fort Worth institution where “Country Cookin’” gets top billing over the restaurant’s name, has new owners.
Joel Hancock, the restaurant’s general manager for more than 20 years, his son, Brian, and the Westland Restaurant Group — headed by Gigi Howell and Bourke Harvey — have purchased the cafe, the group announced in August.
The sale “ensures a seamless transition that honors the cafe’s legacy since its beginning in 1996,” the group said in a release.
Tracey Sanford, who bought the restaurant at 7950 Camp Bowie Boulevard West when it had been open for only three months, owned it until he died in 2021, cultivating a reputation for comfort food and community.
“Customers can expect the same home-cooked favorites that have defined West Side Cafe’s experience, such as buttermilk pancakes, biscuits and gravy, chicken n’ dumplings and chicken fried steak,” the new owners said in the release.
“West Side Cafe might technically be changing hands, but from a customer perspective, nothing changes,” Joel Hancock said. “Taking ownership with my son, Brian, is both an honor and a continuation of our commitment to serve the same great food, with the same great service. Tracey’s mentorship and friendship mean the world to me, and partnering with Westland Restaurant Group, led by Bourke Harvey and Gigi Howell, aligns with our values.”
Said Howell: “I’ve been a fan of West Side Cafe for years. You can often find me there on a Sunday morning, sitting at the counter. Their dedication to quality and community resonates with us, and we’re thrilled to support Joel and Brian in this next chapter.”
Stacy Phillips is the restaurant’s new general manager, replacing Hancock.
“I’ve always felt a sense of ownership in my work at West Side Cafe, even before taking the keys,” Joel Hancock said. “Now, as an owner, my connection to this place and the people we serve deepens further. We’ll continue to honor our past while embracing the future, making sure the heart and soul of West Side Cafe remain unchanged.”