It was 1994 when Adam Jones tried to lease prestigious real estate at 812 Main Street in downtown Fort Worth with plans to open his own steakhouse – plans that were halted when the building was sold and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse moved in. The Nebraska native decided to forgo his dream – at least temporarily – and worked for “Del’s” instead, staying with the restaurant for 12 years as first a partner and then general manager.
“I stayed for the joy of what it was,” Jones says. “Del’s turned out to be an unbelievable machine.”
But when the restaurant sold in 2006, Jones knew it was time to pursue his wishes.
“I was at the peak of what I was doing, so it was the perfect time to raise money and open my own restaurant,” Jones says.
Sleek and sophisticated, Grace opened just steps away at 777 Main Street in November 2008 – just a few weeks after the stock market crashed.
“We had to batten down the hatches and stick with it,” he says. “We adjusted the menus. I had very understanding businesspeople as investors. They said, ‘Stay the course.’ We stood the course and here we are 10 years later and it’s profitable and we’re moving forward.”
At the kitchen reigns was a young man named Blaine Staniford, now one of Fort Worth’s leading chefs who’s gained countless local accolades and national acclaim by the James Beard House in New York City.
“Blaine cooked for me and he had me at the first course,” Jones said. “He did a fantastic job and we got along well. Here we are 10 years later and I believe we’re both still happy with one another. In our business, that’s tough.”
Jones describes Grace as a “culinary restaurant.” It’s a concept that’s evolved slightly since he opened a decade ago.
“When we first opened we did a lot of the high-end stuff, which we realized the economy couldn’t afford. We did the big porterhouse steaks and seafood platters. We’ve evolved by going back to real simple to now offering more variety,” he says. “We have tasting menus – both omnivore and vegetarian – to please the palates of today, but still offer a great ribeye.”
Dishes that have been on the menu since day one are the Colorado rack of lamb, the Maine diver scallops served over a shallot potato cake with American caviar butter sauce, and the almost-famous “toad-in-the-hole” salad with truffle vinaigrette.
“Those are things we’ll never change because the clientele just loves them.”
Something else that won’t change is Grace itself. Jones just signed another 10-year lease. While he has plans to open a second location of his other restaurant, Little Red Wasp, Grace will always be a “one-off,” he says.
“I love what I do here,” Jones says. “I want to continue to be a Fort Worth institution where when people make the choice to go to dinner, they say, ‘let’s go celebrate at Grace.’”
777 Main Street, Fort Worth, 817-877-3388, gracefortworth.com