3405 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” — Ann Wigmore, holistic health food advocate
For Lanny Lancarte being in a kitchen, cooking, has always been an important facet of his life.
The great-grandson of Fort Worth restaurateur Joe T. Garcia, Lancarte grew up in and around the restaurant industry. He ran the front of the house at Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican restaurant until attending Texas Christian University and then the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
After finishing his culinary education, Lancarte returned home to Fort Worth and opened the fine-dining restaurant Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana, which he ran for almost 10 years before transforming it into his second concept, Righteous Foods, in 2014.
Lancarte says his decision to move from fine dining to the more laid back, healthful alternative of that Righteous Foods involved a few key observations.
“I just saw a whole lot of movement in the industry as to where food’s going and where food’s been,” he said. “I [also] grew a little bit tired of the perception of what being a chef was, and I was not really keen on the personality speaking first. I just would rather speak through the food and the craft of cooking than anything else.”
The 1,200-square-foot restaurant, located at 3405 W. Seventh St., is a cafe that offers health-conscious American food and drinks. Righteous Foods, self-funded by Lancarte, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For breakfast, Lancarte says, his biggest sellers are the breakfast burrito and what he calls the paleontology — Lancarte’s play on the paleo diet featuring uncured bacon, sweet potato and zucchini, eggs and avocado and toasted pistachio. During lunch and dinner however, the pharaoh risotto and the burgers reign supreme.
Righteous Foods’ Niman Ranch beef burger, featuring diamond ranch beef, smoked gouda cheese, sumac aioli, house pickles and kumato tomatoes and served with yucca fries has, received several local accolades.
Lancarte says that making the move to offer a healthful food alternative prepared with ingredients from local farms when possible went almost hand-in-hand with his personal dietary choices.
“I started getting a little bit older and just changing the way I ate,” he said. “It was the way I was cooking anyways and I knew in other markets that it was prevalent and we had a big hole with what the staples are here and [with the] healthy approach to food and sourcing things from responsible places.”
Lancarte says his business’s role in the community is to offer “a healthful alternative to other dining options.”
“I think everybody will reach a stage at some point in their life where they want to make better decisions about what they eat,” he said. “You can come here and know that you’re going to have some decisions that will have a healthful impact.”
Lancarte also pointed out that while not everything on the menu is necessarily healthful — they do for instance offer waffles and maple syrup — the team at Righteous Foods uses locally sourced ingredients coupled with a different style of presentation to offer a more wholesome approach to their food.
Righteous Foods has proven a success for Lancarte, but as a serial entrepreneur who is always interested in what’s next, he has a few projects in the works.
Righteous Foods’ next three to five years could include expansion, Lancarte said. He’d like to open another location and is looking at space in southwest Fort Worth.
“My ultimate goal is to stay here and open multiple concepts here,” Lancarte said, adding that the growth of Fort Worth is what has pushed his entrepreneurial spirit. “I certainly pride myself on being an entrepreneur and seeking what’s new and what’s next that I’m going to do.”
He says the growth the city is seeing is causing many non-local, chain or big-box developers to seek space in Fort Worth, which makes him worry that “there’s not enough independent operators for us to keep Fort Worth unique.”
The 43-year-old chef, husband, entrepreneur and father has a call to action for the young entrepreneurs of Fort Worth.
“In the next 10-15 years, if a lot more folks younger – hopefully younger than me – don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit and start to fill those voids and sign these leases, Fort Worth is in danger of becoming a vanilla city.”