Lawsuit in Joe T. Garcia’s family: Lancarte brother alleges lack of transparency

One of the six owners of Fort Worth’s iconic Joe T. Garcia’s restaurant is suing the other five owners, saying the president — also his brother — has been running the company with a lack of transparency.

Phillip Lancarte is the secretary and a shareholder of Joe T Garcia’s, a Texas corporation that operates Fort Worth’s famous Mexican restaurant of the same name along with two locations of Esperanza’s Cafe & Bakery. He filed a suit against his five siblings and the company in Tarrant County court Tuesday.

Joe T. Garcia’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sprawling, 2,000-seat restaurant recognized with national awards is family-owned by the grandchildren of Joe Tafolla Garcia and his wife, Jesusa (“Mamasuez”), immigrants who had fled Michoacán for Fort Worth during the Mexican Revolution. They opened the restaurant July 4, 1935.

The restaurant is now operated by the six surviving children of the Garcias’ daughter, the late Esperanza “Hope” Garcia Lancarte: sons Lanny Sr., Joe, Jesse and Phillip, and daughters Zurella and Elizabeth.

The Garcias’ youngest daughter, Hope Lancarte, took over the business in 1979. When she died in 2014, her six children took over the business, with one-sixth share each.

Phillip Lancarte says in the suit his brother, Lanny Lancarte, has controlled the business with a lack of transparency despite Phillip Lancarte’s repeated complaints.

On April 30, Phillip Lancarte and his lawyers sent a letter to Lanny Lancarte laying out his complaints and demanding to see all the company’s financial records and bookkeeping, the suit says.

Lanny Lancarte’s attorneys answered the letter two weeks later. Phillip Lancarte says in the lawsuit that his brother accused him of misconduct and causing large debt in the company. The letter also promised to allow Phillip Lancarte access only to certain records, the suit says.

Lanny Lancarte could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Phillip Lancarte’s lawyer, Frank Hill, said they are asking the court for immediate mediation to resolve the dispute quickly.

In 1982, Philip Lancarte was one of three siblings who opened a Joe T. Garcia’s location in Addison. It closed in 1986.

In recent years, Philip and a brother, Jesse, have run Esperanza’s Cafe and Bakery along with the company’s catering.

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