Small Business: West Side Cafe

West Side Cafe

When Richard Bordeaux sits down at the West Side Cafe, the waitresses know exactly what he wants.

Bordeaux, 90, who is long retired from the real estate business and is a regular customer at the popular home-cooking establishment in far West Fort Worth, is in for ham and eggs and a side of toast.

“The girls know,” he said. “I can walk in and they fix it without me ordering. The food is prepared well. Everything here is good. It’s cooked well. It’s how I like it and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

West Side Cafe celebrated 20 years in business in January under owner Tracey Sanford, who turned 60 on March 15. He makes sure the cafe is heavily staffed in order to get great-tasting food out fast. Each menu item is made from scratch by an experienced kitchen staff that Sanford calls “a machine.”

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“Our philosophy is that we don’t make the food acceptable — we make it exceptional,” Sanford said. “We don’t cut any corners.”

West Side Cafe thrives on regular customers. Many of them live in the Benbrook area or in Fort Worth’s Western Hills and Ridglea neighborhoods. Others drop in from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base and Lockheed Martin. The defense workers often arrive for lunch because they know they can eat and get back to work on time.

“We have the best customers in the world,” Sanford said. “We serve billionaires, politicians, Hollywood and the homeless. We treat people all of the same. We just give them that down-home slap on the back.”

West Side Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its theme is down-home country cooking. Chicken-fried steak, meat loaf, pork chops and vegetables are served throughout the day.

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“We do it the old-fashioned way,” said Joel Hancock. “We don’t cut any corners. That’s the way is used to be done. Most people have gotten away from it. We haven’t gotten away from it.”

Hancock, who is among seven mangers who work at the cafe, said the staff thrives on teamwork.

“On one Saturday morning, for example, we had about 13 people at a larger table,” he said. “When they all got up, about five of us converged on the table, cleaned it, moved it apart. Within a minute to a minute-and-a-half, we had had new tables all ready to set. We have such long-term employees. We’ve been together so long, when one employee zigs, the other one zags. We don’t need a lot of communication because we know what the other one is going to do.”

Hancock is a 14-year employee. He said the business thrives on work crews who are happy to be there.

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One happy employee is Araceli “Mommy” Villanueva, who has worked for West Side for 15 years as a waitress. She said one big reason she likes working is because upper management is great to work for.

“They understand you,” she said. “If we have to go get our kids, they say ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ve got you. We’ve got your back.’”

Villanueva also looks forward to serving her customers.

“We have really good friends here,” she said. “I live close by so it’s easy to show up here. I love my customers. I have quite a few regulars.”

Stacy Phillips, a 12-year waitress, said she also likes the working atmosphere at the West Side Cafe.

“All of the people are great,” Phillips said. “Our bosses are great. We have high traffic and it’s a lot of fun. We’ve all been together here a long time and we are like family. It’s like we’re coming to work with our friends every day. We love our customers. We have the same ones all of the time. We’re on a first-name basis with almost everybody. It makes it more homey.”

West Side Cafe

7950 Camp Bowie Blvd. West

Fort Worth 76116