The word “local” can be used to describe a variety of places or objects. People are described as “locals” when they have lived somewhere for a long period of time and know about their surroundings. These “locals” describe the places that have been around in their town for a while as “local”. For example, the local pizza place, the local grocery store, the local barber shop etc. One thing that all of these have in common is that they create a connection between an area and the people of that area. The first time I came to Fort Worth I asked my friends who had lived here their whole lives, also known as, the “locals”, where to go. One of the top places they suggested was, Woodshed Smokehouse on the Trinity River, a local restaurant near the TCU campus. When I walked into Woodshed, I automatically knew why they had recommended it. It gave me a sense of what Fort Worth was like, with the live country music playing in the background and the authentic BBQ. Woodshed created a sense of what being a college student in Fort worth was going to be like, by having a fun and laid back atmosphere with live music and southern hospitality from the customers to every employee.
“Fort Worth is the 16th largest city in the world and welcomes 6.5 million visitors annually.” Therefore, it is filled with places to entertain and make it a welcoming area. There are about eight different areas of Fort Worth, from the Stockyards to the TCU area, that are filled with different restaurants and attractions. 10,323 students are enrolled at TCU and 741,206 people live in Fort Worth.” That means each business, restaurant, attraction etc. work to satisfy the needs of the people who live in the city, the students or the visitors. The restaurants near the TCU campus have a very important job because the amount of people that visit the university and that go there are constantly looking for a place to eat. The food and atmosphere around the campus can affect the students and visitors time in the city.
With Woodshed being the restaurant that made the biggest effect on me when I first visited TCU, I wanted to see if it was that way for a majority of the people who live or come to the city. Most of my friends say that Woodshed was the first place recommended to them when asking where to eat in Fort Worth. Even if you do your research on where to eat in Fort Worth, Zagats would tell you, “(Woodshed) is a “must-try” in Fort Worth’s University Park Village, celeb chef Tim Love’s Eclectic riverside eatery… the casual setting is “unique, fun and inviting” Which are the exact words I use to describe Fort Worth as a city itself. With so much to do it is very fun and unique; in a sense that the things to do can range from museums, to zoos, to rodeos and line dancing. The one thing they all have in common is that they are filled with friendly people making it so welcoming. Most people that go to Woodshed would agree that they feel that way when eating there.
Tim love is both the owner and chef at Woodshed Smokehouse. However, this is not his only accomplishment in Fort Worth. Love first opened the “Lonesome Dove in 2000 followed by the White Elephant Saloon and Love Shack in 2007… Woodshed Smokehouse in 2012.” Love’s first three restaurants were placed in the stockyards, known as Fort Worth’s historic district. However, it is the new location of Woodshed that makes it such a focal point of the city. Even though recent, Woodshed was already been named in Bon appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants.” In order to find out what made Woodshed so different from every other restaurant in Fort Worth that Tim Love has opened we asked his assistant who told us,”Woodshed is actually a ‘Smokehouse’, wood is the focal point for the creation of all our menu items.” (David Lace) He told us that they wanted to attract a large audience and that is where the location of Woodshed comes into play. “The city of Fort Worth wanted to utilize the Trinity River, as the river was never viewed as a focal point for the city. The Woodshed is the first restaurant (business) to be open along the Trinity trail. In years to come many restaurants and developments will follow.” (David Lace) With the Trinity River being a focal point for Fort Worth, placing a restaurant along it automatically turns that into a focal point as well. Love opened Woodshed right along the trinity River because it was a “unique public-private partnership in a place he loved.” (David Lace) Clearly Love used his affection for the river unlike anyone else before because, David Lace told us, “Woodshed Smokehouse was the first restaurant to open along the Trinity River.” Not only did this attract the people along the river but the people who were at surrounding attractions as well. The Fort Worth zoo and the Botanical Gardens are just a couple of attractions that represent the city and are in walking distance of Woodshed. The restaurant is also just miles away from the TCU campus, attracting college students and their families when they come to visit. Woodshed Smokehouse creates a college friendly environment, allowing students to use frog bucks while also entertaining the adults, with good drinks and music. When Love opened Woodshed he created a never-before seen restaurant, using a new location as well as putting a spin on the menu.
The two most popular foods in Texas are known to be Tex Mex and BBQ, Love’s goal for Woodshed was to combine the two, with menu items from ribs and brisket, to tacos and corn. On the website it states, “All the food on the menu is cooked using wood and fire sources” which is what turned it from an average restaurant to a smokehouse. When asked what their most famous dish was Lace responded with, “Our 16 hour Beef Shin. The dish is served family style and turns heads when it is presented in the dining room.” (David Lace) Family style BBQ is something Texas is known for. This makes it hard for BBQ restaurants to really stand out. Yet, with dishes like the 16 hour beef shin, Love learned to give an average Texan dish that “wow” factor that consumers and families can experience together.
Another one of the elements that has made Woodshed such a successful restaurant in such a short amount of time is its family style approach, backyard cookout-feel to its dining experience. Woodshed is one of very few restaurants in the Fort Worth area that allows dogs within its dining area. Not only this, but on the website it says,”We even have a special menu just for man’s (and woman’s) best friend”. Add in the picnic table format to many of its outdoor seating locations and Woodshed feels like a family cookout in your backyard. It’s these inclusive rules that have drawn so many to this restaurant. Woodshed smokehouse does an excellent job of being an inclusive and welcoming eating environment that caters to people of all backgrounds. Woodshed has even become popular amongst cyclists and runners as the restaurant sits directly next to the most popular bike trail in Fort Worth along the trinity river. In just 4 years, Woodshed has established itself as a staple in the Fort Worth community that does a fantastic job of offering a family feel along with incredibly well-prepared dishes that make it a joy for anyone to eat at.
In addition to embracing the community, another reason Woodshed represents the culture and values of the city of Fort Worth is how it gives back to the community. Woodshed sponsors two annual fun runs along the trail that runs adjacent to the restaurant and proceeds of the run go charities benefiting the community. Fort Worth is a city that upholds a high standard of courtesy, respect, and hospitality, and Woodshed consistently strives to give back to the community that has embraced the restaurant into a prominent location in the city. Woodshed also makes a strong effort to remain an eco-friendly. While Woodshed acknowledges on its website that their method of “wood-firing its meats isn’t exactly eco-friendly,” it backs up its points by saying, “The Woodshed’s lack of a power hungry central AC unit helps in this way, offsetting ozone busting refrigerant emissions that normally consume over 25% of a restaurant’s yearly electricity use.” For as much support as the Fort Worth community has given to the restaurant, Woodshed has given back quite a bit in thanks to its supporters.
As a whole, Woodshed Smokehouse has established itself as a place that embodies the rich culture and tradition in Fort Worth. Whether it’s the location just off the iconic Trinity River, the structure reinvented from an old shed, the excellent selection of beers on tap, or the homestyle cooking and dining experience with just the right amount of Texas flavor, The Woodshed Smokehouse puts Fort Worth’s best foot forward and provides an atmosphere that is unique and refreshing.