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Previously, when Hot Box Biscuit Club fans wanted scratch-made biscuits paired with Southern-inspired dishes, they had to be quick with email. The only way to attend the secret monthly pop-up brunches, which launched nearly three years ago, was to join an email list and respond with lightning speed once reservations opened. Selling out in minutes, the BYOB brunches would leave biscuit-lovers all over town anxiously awaiting word on the next pop-up.
That will change when chef pals and now business partners Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley open their first restaurant at 313 South Main Street by month’s end. Set for breakfast, brunch and lunch service every day but Monday, Hot Box Biscuit Club will allow the duo to serve all of their loyal fans six days a week.
Here’s how it all started:
“Matt and I have known each other for about 10 years – we worked together as instructors at Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas,” says Hooton, former cooking school manager at Central Market in Fort Worth. “When Matt and his family moved back home to Fort Worth, we started playing around with the idea of cooking good food that we both grew up with. So we thought, ‘Heck, let’s do a brunch.’”
Enter Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s Cocina Mexicana, who went to high school with Mobley and offered his picturesque private event space in North Side for Hot Box’s first pop-up, which filled quickly with family and friends.
“And from there, it just grew,” says Hooton.
The two borrowed space all over town — from Tokyo Café and Swiss Pastry Shop to Rahr & Sons Brewing Company and the Collective Brewing Project — to host pop-up brunches after hours on Sunday about once a month. Saturdays were soon added before demand forced them to “pop up” almost every weekend. When Mobley was laid off from Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas thanks to the culinary school closing all of its North American operations, he took it as a sign to take the plunge with Hooton to pop-up no more, but rather open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“It was kind of a blessing in disguise and bittersweet – I get laid off and then Hot Box falls into my lap at the exact same time. We just felt like it was right,” he says. “We have received so much support and praise in the past few years, with not only our food, but also the concept and atmosphere. Plus, what’s better than being your own boss?”
Hooton says while biscuits are trending all over the country, she and Mobley wanted to raise the bar for not only biscuits but everything that goes with them. Hot Box’s are made with White Lily flour and accompaniments range from scratch-made jams, bacon that’s cured and smoked more than two weeks, fried chicken brined in Best Maid pickle juice, hand-cut and breaded okra, gouda grits and more.
“It’s such a compliment to have someone walk up to us after a pop-up and say… “I don’t even like okra, and that was the best okra I’ve ever tasted.”
Pop-up regulars can expect all of their favorite Hot Box dishes, but Hooton can’t promise the menu won’t change regularly.
“The pop-ups gave us a great opportunity to see what people love,” she says. “But we are still chefs, and it’s hard to keep our creativity wrangled in. Don’t be surprised if we’re doing a different daily special, secret off-menu item, or surprise pop-up with one of our favorite chefs in Fort Worth.”
Hot Box Biscuit Club will seat about 60 people, offer a full bar, and will be open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.