Long-lost Fort Worth restaurant gets new shot as craft coffee house
Fort Worth’s North Side will finally get caffeinated later this year when an artisanal coffee house takes over a space that was once occupied by a popular restaurant. Casa Azul coffee is expected to be in the former Sammy’s Restaurant at 300 W. Central Ave. in early fall.
The owner and coffee lover Joseph Landeros bought the small half-timbered house from the Castillo family, whose grandfather Sammy Pantoja pampered and dined loyal customers in his restaurant of the same name in the 70s and 80s.
Landeros and his wife Anette left their careers to pull the trigger for their dream project when they noticed that the area – between downtown and the Stockyards – was particularly lacking in coffee options.
“Aside from the QT gas station on Northside Drive and North Main, the community really lacks coffee options,” says Landeros. “You have to go to West Seventh or downtown to get to a coffee shop.”
Patrons can expect quality coffee with a Latin American flair, he says. Drinks include Mexican mocha with Oaxacan chocolate, lattes with flavors like Tres Leches cake, and Café de olla – traditionally prepared in a clay pot with spices like cinnamon and clove.
Coffee wasn’t always Landeros’ passion, but he came to appreciate the drink at a young age after watching his father enjoy it so much.
“I remember going to work with him in the summer when I was younger and seeing him and all the other men have their coffee before they left the break room to start their work days,” he says. “When I got a shop worker job where my father worked, I remember getting myself a cup of black coffee – because that’s how everyone in the oilfield had their coffee – and just holding it to me while I was Stuck in her morning coffee-chat routine, trying to be like one of the guys.
“What’s funny is that I also remember walking into the break room when everyone went out into the field to toss cream and sugar in the cup because I couldn’t handle the bitter taste. “
Landeros’ palate has matured since then, he says, but he doesn’t mind a little cream and sugar.
The name Casa Azul is inspired by the couple’s visit to Frida Kahlo’s famous blue house of the same name in Mexico City.
“We hope to bring the same love for culture and creativity into our own Casa Azul,” says Landeros.
While there will be a paint job or two, much of the property’s character remains unchanged. The original wooden floors are preserved, along with the tiled artwork by Virgen de Guadalupe originally installed by the Pantoja family. According to Landeros, the image of the Virgin Mary is very special for Latino families and is often displayed in their homes.
Landeros also plans to use the existing full kitchen to compose an extensive menu of groceries, but is initially offering pan dulce, pastries and breakfast tacos. Additions to the building include a spacious outdoor terrace and a convenient passage.
“Hopefully this will help us expand our reach and meet the needs of everyone in the community,” says Landeros. “As my wife says, drive-thrus suddenly come to the rescue when you have to get a toddler in and out of the car seat. We want to serve as many people as possible.
“Whether you have time to read a newspaper or just want a nice cup of coffee to start your busy day right, we want to be there for you.”