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Thursday, October 18, 2001

Kincaid’s serves up hamburgers and history
By Antoinette Vega
Skiff Staff

Situated unassumingly in a small, white brick building on Camp Bowie Boulevard, Kincaid’s Hamburgers offers its customers more than a great hamburger; they serve up a heap of Fort Worth history as well.

Photographs of former beauty queens, Texas sports teams, local radio disc jockeys and other familiar community faces are strewn along the white walls along with newspaper and magazine clippings from Texas Monthly and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that mention the restaurant. The collection has slowly increased over the years, due to the support for the modest hamburger joint, and soon there will be no more wall space for new additions.

A tradition is born

For more than 55 years Kincaid’s has been a popular eating establishment located in the cultural district of Fort Worth at 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd. Its long run of success can be attributed to the catchy phrase displayed over the front double-glass doors describing the burger joint as “a place where friends meet to eat.” Throughout the years the place has endured small changes in ownership and decorating techniques, but has kept its most important attributes: Loyal customers and enjoyable food.

In 1946, Kincaid’s was established by Charles Kincaid as a full-service grocery store. The place sold basic grocery items and served home-style food, but it was most famous for its custom-cut meat market.

On a typical day, people were able to do their grocery shopping while enjoying a meal.

“Most people came in to eat the cooked vegetables and chicken fried steak from the delicatessen,” said long-time customer James Blessing. “One lady cooked all the meals and they were very enjoyable.”

Customers would pay after ordering their meal and proceed to eat standing up at wooden counter tops made from doors costing $1 each.

In 1954, when Charles Kincaid became ill, the butcher O.R. Gentry took over management and eventually purchased the store. Gradually the popularity of the hamburgers outweighed the demand for groceries and home-cooking and caused an end to the selling of grocery items.

“I was glad when they finally removed the dusty groceries no one seemed to buy because the burgers are what is best about the place,” said long-time customer Yolanda Johnson.

Soon Kincaid’s Grocery Market transformed into what is now known as Kincaid’s Hamburgers.

Grocery items, such as ketchup, salt and pepper are still on shelves, but are not available for purchasing. They only serve as reminders of the past.

Keeping it in the family

Today, Kincaid’s Hamburgers is owned by O.R. Gentry’s son and daughter-in-law, Ron and Lyn Gentry. Morris Gardner, Lyn’s father, is the manager of the store.

Over the years, changes have taken place at Kincaid’s including when the original checkout counters, used to purchase groceries, were removed and long picnic style tables were substituted in their place in 1991. The long wooden picnic tables covered in red and white checkered table cloths give customers the option of sitting down to eat rather than having to stand up at the counters. Despite the changes, Gardner makes it a point to keep the appearance of the place unchanged because his customers have come to enjoy the familiar surroundings at the restaurant.

Clientele hasn’t changed over the years either. The place serves a variety of people including families, businessmen, construction workers, senior citizens and high school students. Many customers have made eating at Kincaid’s a weekly tradition.

“I come here and eat at least once a week and have been doing it since I graduated high school (more than) ten years ago.” said Carol Smith.

For some Fort Worth families, the tradition of eating at Kincaid’s has been passed down from one generation to the next.

“For the last 15 years, eating at Kincaid’s has been a weekly Saturday tradition,” said Keith Van Meter. “I took my first child here when she was only eight or ten days old and continued doing that with my other children.”

Kincaid’s provides a casual, friendly atmosphere that makes customers feel like family. It is common to see customers catching up on work, reading newspapers or watching sports events while eating. It is also not unusual to see Gardner making his way around the room to talk to familiar customers or to meet new ones.

Customers are now able to contribute to the area while investing in a permanent memory of their visits to Kincaid’s. Customers can purchase bricks with their names inscribed and have them put in the landscaped area across the street from the place for posterity. The area used to be a plain grass strip, but is now landscaped with trees, benches and bricks, which will be added soon. The bricks are $40 each and are sold by Kincaid’s to raise money for the Historic Camp Bowie, an organization designed to improve the area around Camp Bowie Boulevard.

According to manager Morris Gardner, the future will not bring any drastic changes to Kincaid’s.

“We may expand to other areas but will continue to keep the same traditional values and great food because what we have been doing seems to be working,” Gardner said.

Antoinette Vega


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