With a legit claim to the best burgers in the country, the Gentry family continues to serve ’em up right.
If one thing defines westside Fort Worth to a degree comparable to its famous brick-lined thoroughfare, it’s Kincaid’s Hamburgers. An institution in the truest sense of the word, Kincaid’s has celebrated over 70 years in its current location at 4901 Camp Bowie Boulevard. Throughout those decades, it has evolved from a grocery store, and neighborhood butcher, to the beloved burger joint that continues to serve legions of the faithful on a daily basis.
Now that Kincaid’s has expanded to five additional locations, it’s fair to say that it has become a true regional icon. Heralded by many as serving up the best burgers anywhere, one visit is all it takes to make a convert — and gain Kincaid’s yet another lifelong fan.
History of an Icon
Kincaid’s Hamburgers began as Charles Kincaid’s Grocery and Market back in 1946. A full-service meat market complemented the rows of staples and groceries for sale in this old-fashioned establishment, and the residents of Fort Worth soon became familiar with the prime cuts offered by resident meat cutter, O.R. Gentry. Gentry joined Kincaid’s in 1947, and began cooking hamburgers as a side operation in 1964. Twenty two years after the store opened, Gentry purchased Kincaid’s, and the focus began to clearly shift away from groceries, and more towards Gentry’s first-class burgers.
Before Kincaid’s began to lure customers from around Tarrant County, Arlington Heights high school students kept the place in business. Kincaid’s Hamburgers began with just one small grill, and Gentry was able to crank out 40-50 burgers a day to serve the local demand. As the students began to flock to Kincaid’s for their lunches and after school breaks, word began to spread to the parents about the delicious, grilled burgers available right in the heart of town.
As the burgers became more popular, Kincaid’s became less and less of a grocery store, and more of a pure hamburger grill. Business began to evolve rapidly from this point, and more of the grocery space became converted to stand-up counters for the restaurant’s growing clientele. Items got removed, and shelving cut down to provide countertop seating for the high schoolers, parents, and other citizens who had turned Kindcaid’s into a westside hangout. The restaurants’s original stand-up counters proved popular, and an average day saw dozens of regulars leaned over during lunch time, enjoying their burgers and catching up on the latest news, gossip, or scores.
As the business grew further, the grocery items were completely moved out, save for the decorative touchstones you can still see today as a reminder of Kincaid’s rich history. The restaurant added additional grills and a fryer, so that Kincaid’s famous french fries and onion rings could complement its impeccable burgers. Local media began to notice, and Kincaid’s received write-ups in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth Business Press, and many other places. Television stations featured the restaurant in news spots, and a phenomenon was born.
At one point, a national panel of food critics convened to sample the goods from over 400 hamburger eateries around the country. The clear winner? Fort Worth’s own Kincaid’s, serving ‘em up right since 1964. Though much of the credit to Kincaid’s success goes to the quality of its food, you can’t discount the influence of the Kincaid culture. The positivity of this environment, which has appealed to generations of customers, stands as a testament to the Gentry family.
Culture of Success
Along with their father, Ronald, Jonathan and Christian Gentry now co-own Kincaid’s Hamburgers.
“We celebrated 70 years this past September,” says Jonathan. “We’re a fixture, and we’ve always been focused first and foremost on quality and customer service. I think we’ve tried to do that ever since Kincaid’s began. Mr. Kincaid and my grandfather focused on the customers, and people know that when they come into Kincaid’s, they can expect a high level product.”
Alongside the Pimento Cheese Burger, diners can enjoy old favorites such as the Cowtown Burger, the Chili Cheeseburger, and the Bacon Cheeseburger. These complement the standard 1/2 pound hamburger and cheeseburger favorites, and if you’ve got a smaller appetite, junior-sized 1/4 pound versions are available as well. All the burgers come standard with mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onions, and your classic side options include fried okra, french fries, and onion rings. Kincaid’s has a few additional specialties that have won the hearts of locals — deviled eggs and stuffed jalapeños, namely — and lesser-known items such as chicken strips and corn dogs that beg to be tried.
“Remember, we used to be a butcher shop,” says Jonathan. “So the attention to quality with the meat is there. You’ll still see some of the traditional menu items, but we’re trying some new things, including our pimento cheese burger.”
The menu at Kincaid’s remains simple, though innovation has led to some quality additions in recent years. Kincaid’s burgers all get made from the highest quality U.S.D.A. Choice chuck on the market. All-natural and vegetarian fed, this hormone, preservative, and anti-biotic free meat gets cut and ground daily at every location. Just as it’s always been done, the beef then gets hand-shaped into the one-half pound patties that everyone knows and loves.
Anyone who walks into one of the six Kincaid’s notice one thing right off the bat: a laid-back, down-home attitude, which beams from the environs the moment anyone walks in the door. Nostalgic ads and vintage decor create a sense of home, and transport visitors back to the days of the old five and dime. While not all locations have the distinctive cut shelving, stand-up seating, all Kincaid’s benefit from unique, comfortable arrangements that emphasize community alongside hamburgers.
Always ready with a smile, a Kincaid’s employee understands that customers want service along with their satisfaction, and work to make every visit an experience to remember. A place to relax, laugh, and enjoy the cheer of good food and neighbors — that’s what Kincaid’s has been about for all these years. The restaurant’s motto says it all: Where Friends Meet to Eat.