Fort Worth, Texas goes by many names: F-Dub, Panther City, Cowtown (or if you live on the Dallas side of the Metroplex, you may opt for the more pejorative Fart Worth, because it’s a town of cows), but no sobriquet is more earned than Funky Town. When outsiders think of Fort Worth, the first thing that comes to mind is the Stockyards or perhaps the iconic honky tonk Billy Bob’s, but there’s an undercurrent of the weird and wacky thanks to the thriving music, arts, and culinary scenes. A blend of yeet and yee-haw, Forth Worth is a place where independent spirits with big ideas have enough room to execute them; it’s like Austin used to be before all the corporations bought the city, but with waaaaaay more cows.
This sort of bootstrapping is of course a boon for coffee shops, just ask Roots Coffeehouse and owner Janice Townsend. After spending a decade-plus in the DFW coffee scene with the original Roots in the FTW suburb of North Richland Hills, Townsend is opening a second location/coworking space, this time in the heart of the city she calls home. With the help of her husband Matt, Townsend has spent the last three years ripping a 5,000-square-foot building down to the studs to rebuild it into the brand new Roots Coffeehouse. It’s the sort of pick-up-a-hammer-and-make-a-name-for-yourself story that Fort Worth should be known for, not just—and I can’t stress this enough—all those very many cows. Funky Town is about to get a little bit funkier thanks to the new Roots Coffeehouse.
As told to Sprudge by Janice Townsend.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Roots is a community coffeehouse that has been serving the greater Fort Worth area for 10+ years. Our company values are building community, creating an environment of hospitality, and crafting excellence. We believe in slow, sustainable growth and supporting our community by buying local. We’re known for our annual Buy Local Event (a farmer’s market style event where we bring in the best local makers, artists, and food businesses), our kind baristas, and our excellent coffee.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The new space has been a dream for over three years—a second location for Roots in the city we live in, more specifically, the Near Southside of Fort Worth. The Near Southside is an area devoted to the funky, independent businesses that make Fort Worth what it is. After paying rent for over 10 years, we decided it was time to build something from the ground up. We were lucky enough to find a piece of land in an area called South Main Village (about a mile south of downtown) and we purchased it at the end of 2016. Working with local architects and our builder, we came up with a plan to combine the second location of Roots with a coworking concept called Criterion Coworking through an open-concept, funky, and modern building that was filled with elements of light, natural materials, and green features. The building is unique, split level (the coffeehouse is 2′ lower than the rest of the building and matches the incline of the street), and absolutely beautiful. Coworking members will have access to the entire space, which includes a rooftop deck with views of downtown Fort Worth. Coffee shop visitors will enjoy a beautiful open space with 14′ ceilings, exposed Douglas Fir beams, tons of real plants, and a lovely patio facing Bryan Ave.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We, as baristas, are the final step of the coffee’s journey and we want to honor the entire process by connecting customers to something they will truly enjoy, prepared with excellence. We know that some people want an espresso, some want a flavored latte, and some want a great cup of drip. With that in mind, our entire menu is crafted with the customer in mind—if it’s a straight espresso, we are going to prepare it with care, if it’s a flavored latte it’s going to have house-made syrups and local ingredients, if it’s a drip coffee it’s going to be dialed in to bring out the sweetness in each roast. We work with a great local roaster out of Dallas called Novel Coffee Roasters and with the great service and coffee they provide, we’re able to offer amazing coffee to every single type of customer that comes through our doors.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
How is your project considering sustainability?
In so many ways. Because we’ll own the building, we were able to invest in features that will lend themselves to sustainability in the long run—for example, a really excellent, high-efficiency HVAC system combined with foam insulation and low-E windows. Additionally, the whole building will use LED lights and operate on a timer with dimmers and daylight harvesting. We have also integrated re-purposed and recycled materials where we can—salvaged countertops and shelving from the old antique store that used to be across the street, acoustic panels made from recycled water bottles, and more. At Roots, we also place a high value on sustainability by buying local, recycling, and reducing our single-use items wherever we can (check out our blog post on Eco-Cups). At the Fort Worth location of Roots, we also hope to partner with local composting company Cowboy Compost to make sure our coffee grounds and food waste don’t end up in landfills.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Matt Townsend of Freeform Made is my husband, co-owner of the building, and has done a huge amount of work on this project—from hand-making the complex coffee bar in the shop to making the stairs in the coworking space to being on site every single day. Chris Raines from Archistructure has also put in a ton of extra work and time making this project work and helping us make changes that will benefit the project in the long run.
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