Last January, Chris and Stephanie Otto’s lives literally went up in smoke as the restaurant they had owned only three weeks, 1879 Chisholm Grill, was lost in the downtown Waxahachie fire.
“It was the worst day of my life,” Stephanie said, saying it was just 10 days before her birthday.
That location had been a restaurant since the early 1900s. Because they had no renter’s insurance they lost everything. They never doubted they would re-open and were considering other locations, but what they really wanted was to stay downtown.
“We just got a call to rent this building; the other (restaurant) owner was looking at doing other things,” Stephanie said. “The Rogers Hotel gave us the opportunity to take over a furnished kitchen.”
The location was previously occupied by The Dish restaurant.
“We literally came back with $1.62 in the bank,” Stephanie said. “Everybody is extra happy we’re back.”
They said they haven’t been able to do any advertising to let the public know they are back, but their website is up and running. And their regular customers are back enjoying the same menu and the same great service.
“Julie, our waitress, is back. One of our old cooks is coming back – so it’s the same staff,” she said, saying they have some new staff members as well. “We have the same great menu, the same wonderful homemade bread and our famous desserts.”
The new location opens more opportunities for the restaurant to expand their services. Now they have a catering room for private parties and weddings. They already have two weddings booked and are booking now for summer and the holidays.
“The hotel owners have been really helpful to us. The tenants in the building come in for lunch,” Scott said. “We offer a 10-percent discount to the police and firefighters.”
Scott said they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with specials throughout the week, including Thursday all you can eat catfish, Friday steak special and Sunday turkey and dressing with all the trimmings. Customers can pick up orders to go, plus they deliver in the downtown area. The restaurant is open seven days a week.
“At the old location we had a memorabilia wall and we would like people to bring things to start our new wall,” Scott said, saying they can never replace those items that were lost.
Their families have been instrumental in supporting the couple as they get back to business.
“My mom is here all the time and we just lost Scott’s mom three weeks ago,” Stephanie said.
1879 Chisholm Grill is a family-owned, family-oriented restaurant. Scott said they don’t serve alcohol and don’t plan to. They want to provide a family environment without inappropriate language or distractions.
“We have a group of guys that come in and sit and have coffee every morning,” Stephanie said. “ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) comes in Monday and Tuesday mornings. In fact, we have a lot of morning regulars.”
Scott said the restaurant doesn’t use any frozen products; all ingredients are fresh and only the highest quality.
“We are just down-home cooking. There’s nothing foo-foo on the menu,” Stephanie said.
“I’m glad to be back in the downtown area. We knew even after the fire that we would come back,” she said, saying they promised Scott’s mom they would open another restaurant. “This building is maintained better and has so much history.”
She said people told her there had to be a reason for all they had been through and that something good would come out of it.
Thinking back to the day of the fire, Scott said they were devastated by the loss but very fortunate that no one was hurt.
“Fuzzy’s Taco came out and offered all my employees a job before they opened their location. The Workforce stepped up to help everyone. I didn’t have to make a call to anyone,” Stephanie said.
Scott said the day of the fire people were offering to donate money, but they turned them down and never asked for anything.
“I had faith in Scott and Stephanie. We’re back – ready to go and everyone is welcome,” said Julie Savala, who has been a waitress at the restaurant 7 ˝ years and bakes the wide variety of desserts the restaurant is known for.
Scott said they want to be involved with the revitalization of downtown and will be participating in the Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association events. They will have a booth for Taste of Waxahachie on May 21 offering samples of their tasty desserts.
“We’ve been through a lot. I check and double check and triple check everything every time we leave here,” Stephanie said. “This is a good location with lots of activity. So far, so good – we’ve just moved from one corner to another.”
1879 Chisholm Grill is located at 104 N. College St. in Waxahachie.
Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 469-517-1451.