Travis and Katrina Carpenter opened Carpenter's Cafe & Catering in Near Southside a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (Carpenter's Cafe & Catering)

In a bustling city like Fort Worth, coffee shops and eateries come and go, but one hidden gem serves on, seemingly beneath the radar: a family-owned cafe that defies the norm and warms the hearts of its patrons. 

Tucked away in the Near Southside at 1116 Pennsylvania Ave., this cafe is not just a place to savor delicious breakfast and lunch foods — it’s a welcoming communal space where anyone can find solace, connection and a delightful culinary journey. When was the last time you visited Carpenter’s Café & Catering? 

Carpenter’s is the brainchild of Katrina and Travis Carpenter. The talented husband-and-wife duo shared a passion for good food and a dream to create a place where the community could gather, converse and feel like family. 

The moment you step through the door, you’re greeted with plenty of welcoming smells, such as the warm aroma of freshly prepared signature sandwiches. There’s the “Classic Chick,” a fluffy buttermilk biscuit, blanketed in a rich pork sausage gravy, cheddar cheese, fried egg and just a hint of sweetness from a side of bacon jam. Or perhaps you can try the famous “Smoky Chick,” a signature chicken salad lunch specialty.  

After acquiring their first brick-and-mortar location in December 2019, the couple opened the cafe quietly in February 2020. Six weeks later, something none of us were prepared for happened: COVID. It stopped the world — and halted Katrina and Travis. Since then, they’ve reopened the cafe and done some major catering gigs through their sleek bistro trailer. 

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What sets Carpenter’s Café apart is its unique approach to dining. It’s not just about food; it’s about fostering connections. So much so, that the couple has recently announced plans to build a patio to help further that sense of a family gathering that they’ve worked so hard to curate. 

To do this, they’ve launched a campaign for donor contributions. Many of their biggest supporters have taken time to craft their own videos in hopes of drumming up support for the fundraising effort, which has tiers of giving ranging from $25 to $5,000

The menu at Carpenter’s Café is a delightful twist on American diner classics. Whether you’re a fan of hearty breakfasts, savory sandwiches or sweet treats, there’s something for everyone. 

I first heard of this café in 2020 from my good friend Lauren. After tasting the overwhelmingly delicious smoked chicken salad, I was hooked.

I soon realized that anything I would purchase on the menu would be delectable — and the desserts are sinful. As an avid lover of banana pudding with a strong disdain for bananas (don’t ask me to explain), I find Katrina’s No-Nana Pudding to be a thoughtful blend of velvety smooth pudding with contrasting bits of cookie explosions. Truly stupendous.

One of the most endearing aspects of Carpenter’s Café is its support for the art of conversation. Katrina and Travis have a shared belief that the essence of a successful cafe lies not just in the food but in the conversations that take place within its walls. In their spot, strangers become friends, and a sense of belonging permeates the place. Because the Carpenters believe in the power of food to bring people together, they’ve masterfully transformed their cafe into a hub for connection.

Carpenter’s Café stands as a beacon of warmth and inclusivity in a fast-paced world. It’s a testament to the fact that a small family-owned cafe can create a profound impact on its community. By blending culinary excellence, a passion for sustainability and a commitment to fostering connections, Carp’s, as the cafe is affectionately called, has shown us that the heart of a community is often found where food, love and stories intertwine.

Deah Mitchell writes about more than food. You can email her at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Deah Berry Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Black Group, a multimedia company whose core business is preserving Black cultural history through writing, public speaking, tourism and technology....