October 21, 2021

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One of the City’s Oldest Italian Restaurants Has a Mystery Component to Survival

3 min read

It’s like a scene from “The Past Photo Show” or anything you’d occur throughout whilst zooming down Route 66, this ramshackle building eking out of a dusty extend of U.S. Freeway 80. Pale by the sunlight and time, its old signage offers of “indoor plumbing,” and the entrance doorway squeaks like the monitor doorway to your grandmother’s household.  

Step inside of, and you’ll come across outdated-school Italian food stuff served in an equally old-faculty environment: pizza and pasta and freshly created bread served on tables lined with checkerboard tablecloths. Here, among the the dim lights, glittery pink booths, and the jukebox that plays 33 1/3 records by Elvis, The Beatles, and Dean Martin, time has stood unapologetically nevertheless.  

Margie’s Initial Italian Cafe is a person of the city’s oldest eateries, relationship to 1953. That 12 months, Italian immigrant Margie Walters opened the cafe with her mom and brother, who all moved to Fort Well worth two several years prior. Walters passed absent in 1991, and the restaurant’s lease was picked up by Keith Kidwell and the late Paul Willis, founder of Fuzzy’s. Kidwell owns a further historic cafe, M&M Steakhouse, on the city’s north side. It recently shut — a further win for COVID-19.  

Amid the pandemic, Margie’s, way too, was in threat of closing permanently. But Kidwell has managed to continue to keep the doors open up, much to the delight of regulars who swear by Margie’s signature dishes: housemade lasagna, slathered in tomato sauce and cheese escargot crab and lobster cheese dip and superb pizza pies, their crusts a fantastic equilibrium of pillowy and crunchy.  

If the pandemic’s next wave reveals mercy, the fruits of Kidwell’s labor could fork out off in strides, many thanks to one thing that has extensive eluded the spot: progress. Just after a long time of inactivity, this desolate slice of the much west aspect is starting to come alive. 

Guiding Margie’s is the new Westland Gardens, a hip nursery and backyard garden keep that also sells contemporary make. Within just minutes are large-stop housing developments, these types of as Montserrat and its up coming period sibling, Montrachet, as well as the brand-new Ventana progress. A whole new generation of Fort Worthians could be on the cusp of discovering this unpolished gem of a restaurant.  

“Obviously, that is what we’re all hoping for,” Kidwell claims. “Any time you have individuals coming to a new space, spots like Margie’s have the opportunity to gain from it, spots that are one particular of a variety.” 

Advancement has been a lengthy time coming. Many years in the past, firms thrived alongside this spine of Freeway 80, as soon as a major thoroughfare. But they started to fade in the 1970s when then-new I-20 bypassed the spot. 

What’s retained the restaurant alive is Kidwell’s admirably stubborn perspective towards not switching it. “The pizza oven I’m working with now is at least 45 decades previous,” he suggests, laughing. “That’s what men and women really like about Margie’s, the actuality that it has basically been the same given that the 1950s. It’s 1 of the past eating places in Fort Worth to have that historical truly feel — and that is worthy of preserving.”  

9805 Camp Bowie West, margiesitaliankitchen.com 

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