Hemphill Restaurant, a simple lunch and weekend breakfast cafe serving southside workers and families for 35 years, will close Nov. 24 due to high costs and slower business, owner Mohammad Khan said Thursday.
“Inflation happened and COVID happened, and then people weren’t happy about $9 breakfasts and $10 lunches,” Khan said as the restaurant served up the last of the day’s $9.99 lunch specials.
The restaurant, 3506 Hemphill St., originally opened in 1950 as a vintage drive-in. It changed quickly to a steakhouse and operated for more than 30 years as Ralph’s or Aub’s on a busy southside business and industrial thoroughfare.
In recent years, it has been one of the least expensive cafes in Fort Worth. It’s also one of few that combined a menu of Tex-Mex lunches and weekend breakfasts with home-cooking plate lunches.
For example, the lunch special Friday is a choice of chicken-fried chicken or carne guisada for $9.99.
“Prices were always so low” — usually $5 — “that people didn’t understand why they went up,” Khan said.
“We were just trying to get by.”
Hemphill’s air conditioning went out for three weeks in the hottest part of the summer, meaning diners either came very early or not at all.
“It was just problem after problem,” Khan said.
Customers on Facebook bade goodbye with thanks and memories of family meals there for 20 years.
“We have loved serving our Fort Worth Community for the past years and appreciate everyone who has supported us through these tough times,” Khan wrote. “Hemphill restaurant will forever be a Fort Worth gem.”
Mark and Nancy Khan founded the restaurant, which has remained in the family.
The Khan family’s other restaurant, Good Luck Drive In, 900 W. Rosedale St., is doing well selling burgers, barbecued chicken, ribs and hot links in the middle of the busy medical district, he said.
“It’s just a different area, and it’s busy there,” he said.