PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Fort Worth March 2021

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looking to level up their career. Outdoor cooking enthusiasts can learn about brisket trimming and building a clean fire. Other classes in the works (as soon as COVID-19 allows) include wine tastings, sommelier training, stocks and sauces, and breakfast 101. Backyard cookout events and steak nights are also part of the plan, says Downey, a James Beard Award semifinalist who also honed her skills at Bird Café and Piattello Italian Kitchen. The chef is flexing her creative muscles designing an innovative menu that lets guests choose their level of participation in their meals. "Any dish I make that we're serving hot, there's a version that you can take home and bake yourself, and there's also a frozen version that you can bake later," she says. Customers can also buy the individual ingredients to assemble the dish themselves, with Downey's recipe cards and how-to videos to help. She wants every product she uses in the kitchen to be available on Roy Pope's shelves — and to be made locally whenever possible. They'll have a proprietary loaf from Great Harvest Bread Company in Fort Worth and an exclusive blend from local Frame Coffee Co. Downey is in talks with several other artisan producers, including HomePlate Peanut Butter, Brazos Valley Cheese, Leaves Book & Tea Shop, Icon Bread, and Crunchy Girl Granola. "We're trying to get as much local involvement as we can … Everybody has been so supportive and so excited," she says — even the neighbors, despite any initial apprehension about the transformation of their hometown store. "When people are walking their dogs, they slow down a little bit and peek in the windows." Pondering the changes and pinning their hopes on the future, they have something to look forward to with the new Roy Pope — as do we all, says Lambert: "This is for everybody in the city of Fort Worth." Roy Pope Grocery, 2300 Merrick St., Fort Worth, facebook. com/roypopegrocery. no one else in town is offering … I want to be the hub where anybody and everybody can come in and leave with some knowledge of food or beverage that they didn't have before." Education will be an essential component of the market, which will host classes for everyone from casual students to restaurant professionals executive chef at Clay Pigeon) is on board as culinary director, and level 2 sommelier Mikey Riojas is heading up the upgraded wine and beer program. Lambert has discovered that reviving the Roy Pope legacy requires walking a fine line between the old and the new. He's developed several restaurant concepts from scratch, including Dutch's Hamburgers in Fort Worth and several in Austin and San Antonio, many in conjunction with sister Liz Lambert's Bunk House-brand hotels. But he found unique challenges amid the grocery store's generations of history. "We're trying to pull in more people, but at the same time, it has such a loyal customer base," he says. "It truly is a balancing act of not losing the soul of Roy Pope but also making it more relevant to today's consumer … We're really trying to give the neighborhood what they need: a place to gather and have good conversation. We're putting the wine and coffee bar up front where you can just come hang, you can go shopping … you can stop and have a frozen custard." He hopes the food destination will also attract those who live further afield with its great service and specialty products, such as premium meats that have always been the store's calling card. Saving the west-side institution was an easy choice for Lambert. "I love everything about the culture and history of Fort Worth, and I think Roy Pope really embodies that community uniqueness and quirkiness," he says. While the building was gutted for the reboot, the team preserved everything possible, including bricks and deli cases from the 1950s. Reale, whom many will recognize from his years running the bar at Grace, will be on-deck, operating the store. "It was crucial to me that we kept the vibe of Roy Pope," he says. "We held onto anything that we could either repair or salvage to keep Roy Pope, Roy Pope. Don't get me wrong; it's going to be totally different inside. It's gorgeous." Preserving the longtime reputation for first-name service is another priority for Reale. "I want to offer a level of service that Culinary director Bria Downey Chris Reale PHOTOS COURTESY ROY POPE 57

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