Restaurants / Openings

Homegrown Chef Brings Craft Cocktails, a Beer Garden and Plenty of Fresh Air to Fort Worth’s TCU Area — Smokestack 1948 is Near

Carter Froman Embraces Drive Thru Coffee and a Distinctive Former Ice House

BY // 11.30.20

Carter Froman is making the most of his return to Fort Worth after some restaurant travels. The Trinity Valley School grad first took flight to Austin where he attended the University of Texas. Austin is also where his dream of becoming a chef got its start.

“I knew I wanted to become a chef. But, everyone wanted two years experience to get hired in the restaurant industry — and I didn’t have that,” Froman tells PaperCity Fort Worth, “So I started out as a dishwasher to learn the business.”

When a line cook called in sick, his understudy was literally waiting in the wings. “I jumped in, and became lead line cook within a month. . . the rest is history,” Froman says.

Froman then fled Austin “because is was becoming too commercialized,” He headed to Denver instead in 2012, (before the Mile High City underwent a similar commercialization).

The chef feathered his cap with experience at some of Denver’s top restaurants including Root Down, Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen (which closed permanently during the COVID-19 shutdowns last March), and serving as sous chef at The Populist (which followed suit, closing for good in July), before returning to Fort Worth three years back.

Froman opened Carter’s Coffee food truck in River District, near Heim BBQ in May of 2019, but closed up in March at the height of the pandemic shutdowns, opting to make the move to the TCU area instead in late September. Now Carter’s Coffee is Fort Worth’s first craft coffee drive thru. It’s located at 2736 Stanley Avenue, near the Vintage Rail event venue.

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Carter Froman opened Fort Worth’s first craft coffee drive thru last September.

Along with coffee, cold brew and lattes, Carter’s Coffee serves the richer and sweeter Vietnamese coffee (made with espresso, sweetened condensed milk and half and half), along with chai lattes and cappuccinos. To warm up your breakfast routine, there are also bowls and sandwiches with brisket or bacon.

“I could see that this no-contact format of our drive thru was an even more desirable concept, post-COVID. The only others are chains like Starbucks,” Froman notes.

Smokestack 1948’s Big Debut

Froman began teasing his next big culinary move last August, and has followed up with regular updates on its progress. Now, it’s time for the reveal. Smokestack 1948 will finally open in December at 2836 Stanley Avenue, bringing craft cocktails and plenty of “fresh air” to the TCU area.

“Our original soft opening date was December 15, but it might get pushed back to New Year’s Eve depending on how long our permitting takes,” Froman says.

Smokestack 1948 is a collection of buildings with a courtyard spread in the middle, and will feature a beer garden, a cocktail lounge and a room to relax with friends.

Local muralist Kristen Soble completed the artwork that now graces the side of an old metal building that Froman is calling The Stack, back in September. The mural shows a locomotive chugging along, against an orange sky. Progress on the many other updates to the venue have been picking up steam as well. Operable garage doors, a pebble-lined courtyard and string lights are now installed.

Smokestack 1948 is named for one of the other buildings on the property, which dates from — you guessed it — 1948. It was built with bricks from a former smokestack that burned down in the Arlington Heights neighborhood many years ago.

“Those reclaimed white bricks were reused to build offices for a foundation repair company,” Froman tells PaperCity. “It will now serve as our cocktail lounge, complete with couches and wingback chairs ― with a loungey feel, and a collection of approachable, shaken and stirred cocktails. We are trying to avoid the $15 cocktails you’ll find elsewhere.”

The venue retains the history in its reimagining.

The Stack, which was a former ice house, will open for lunch at 11 am, while the Cocktail Lounge will open at 4 pm. The on-site food trailer, known as 817 Pizza, will feature a collection of pizzas and sandwiches made on house-made breads. Edward Gutierrez, a graduate of and instructor at The Culinary School of Fort Worth, will helm 817 Pizza.

Froman calls the menu, “a little bit all over the place, but it all makes sense.” The pizzas will be Texas style, on focaccia dough, topped with Oaxaca cheese and featuring meats like brisket, bacon, chicken and sausage, all smoked on site.

Picture a Frito Pie Pizza filled with house-smoked sausage, or the Jalapeno Popper Pizza with its cream cheese/ricotta base, topped with smoked jalapenos and a bacon jam. There will also be a selection of salads and sandwiches including a chicken salad made from house smoked chicken.

As for the cocktail menu, it will “focus on independent distilleries and will include some batch cocktails like a Prickly Pear Margarita and a Cucumber Ranch Water,” Froman says. There will be a highball list as well as 10 taps filled by all local craft breweries. Sur Easley, most recently of Piatello Restaurant, will serve as the bar manager, and Amber Davidson of Fort Worth’s late, great Bird Cafe will be lead bartender at Smokestack 1948.

The largely outdoor layout includes one half gravel for picnic table seating, and one half turf grass for games such as corn hole and washer toss. Towards the back, you’ll find The Music Shed, where live musical acts will perform.

Yes, Carter Froman is certainly making himself at home again.

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