Where's some of the best pie in America?
In Fort Worth, according to the October issue of Bon Appétit magazine, which finally came around to what many of us have long known: The top-heavy meringue chocolate and coconut pies from Mike and Ginger Smith's Paris Coffee Shop on Magnolia Avenue will convert even the fussiest food snob.
When all too many restaurants, even high-end establishments, get their desserts trucked in frozen from food-service distributors and charge a bundle, the Smiths keep turning out their delectable pies and cobblers from scratch each morning. Theirs are just $2.80 per generous portion -- $3.95 with ice cream.
Bon Appétit ranked the Paris Coffee Shop among the top 10 in the country. It was the only Texas place cited and one of only three in the South. (tiny.cc/22rlt)
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The Smiths' pies are so good that they inspired a website, www.AmericanPieWays.com, which set former Star-Telegram staffers John Forsyth and Jennifer Autrey on an endless quest for the best slices anywhere.
Presses in peril
Dan Williams, director of TCU Press, told us that the academic publishing arm of Texas Christian University was perilously close to closing in March before it won a three-year reprieve.
TCU Press loses about $150,000 in year, Williams said, with expenses mainly for staff salaries and office overhead.
Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, said, "That's probably in the ballpark for a university that size." Givler said Southern Methodist University's press may be closed after the manuscripts now in its pipeline are released as academic tomes.
A call to SMU officials was not returned Wednesday.
In Houston this month, Rice University is shutting its 4-year-old, mainly digital venture that transmitted books online for free while printing and selling hard copies on demand, Givler said.
In March, there was pressure from some in the TCU administration to have the press operate on a strict business model, with sales offsetting salaries, which isn't the case now. At one point, Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. almost ordered it closed, we're told.
"He said he was just tired of losing money," said Williams, an English professor who that month volunteered to run the press in addition to teaching.
"Chancellor Boschini is under pressure to reduce overall costs as much as he can, and my colleagues and I here at the Press are grateful that, instead of shutting the Press down, as several other universities have done around the country, he has allowed us a three-year period."
Publishing scholarly work is rarely profitable but, Williams said, it's crucial to the health of the university system. A university spokeswoman said she couldn't answer our questions Wednesday.
Over the next three years, Williams hopes to find foundations, corporations and others in the community willing to help make up for the annual shortfall through programs that, say, endow its Texas literature series.
Mean but green
Pickup fans can test drive the 2011 Ford F-150, featuring the new lineup of more fuel-efficient engines, Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Ford says that its EcoBoost V-6 engine, with twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection, will give owners better fuel economy under normal driving conditions plus the power of a V-8 for towing and hauling.
Test drives and demonstrations of the engines and technology will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The final test drives will start at 4:30 p.m. For more information and to make reservations, go to www.drivef150.com
Additional opportunities to test drive the F-150 and other new Ford vehicles will be Oct. 1-11.
Music to their ears
Fidelity Investments surprised students at Fort Worth's Daggett Middle School with $25,000 in musical instruments this week.
Sixty members of the school's band gathered for an assembly where music teacher Alejandro Story spoke on the importance of arts education before introducing representatives from Fidelity, who announced the donation.
Daggett will expand its music program by 77 percent, Principal Erin Deel said. "The generosity Fidelity has shown will not only impact our campus but will inspire our students to act in a charitable manner in order to improve their world."
Fidelity worked with The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation to choose Daggett. The foundation gets its name from the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, about a revered high school music teacher.
"This drink is on us," American Airlines announced Tuesday.
Starting Oct. 1, American will offer free alcoholic beverages to customers in its Admiral Club lounges. Of course, you have to have a membership (which costs $500 for first-time, regular AAdvantage members) or a $50 day pass.
American, based in Fort Worth, said that its customers have been asking for free drinks and that it is "delighted to respond to their request."
American installed HP TouchSmart PCs in Admiral Clubs this year, turning the lounges into cybercafes.
Joe T. CEO honored
Joe T. Garcia's Mexican Restaurant has another accolade.
Hope Garcia Lancarte, chief executive of Joe T. Garcia's Enterprises, won a Community Hero of the Week award from Community Trust Bank.
In partnership with TCU's athletic department, the bank uses the award to recognize "individuals who demonstrate outstanding efforts in our community." Lancarte received it before last week's TCU-Baylor football game at Amon Carter Stadium.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808
Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718