Well-Known Local Cafe Moves to Small TX Town

Bill Smith’s Cafe
Bill Smith’s Cafe in McKinney, Texas. | Image by Bill Smith’s Cafe/Shutterstock

The owner of Bill Smith’s Cafe has announced that the establishment will reopen this fall in Van Alstyne, a quaint Texas town located just 15 miles north of its original location in McKinney.

As The Dallas Express reported, family-owned Bill Smith’s Cafe was a staple of McKinney for 66 years after owner Bill, then 83 years old, decided to close the establishment built by his parents, Bill and Jeanette Smith.

It served classic homestyle fare of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and more from 4 a.m. to a packed room of customers.

“I’ve opened up every morning for nearly 50 years. I don’t want to tear up right now,” Bill told WFAA shortly before the cafe closed.

The building was torn down, but its iconic neon sign was preserved.

Perhaps that was an early indicator that Bill would not last long in retirement, as he recently told The Dallas Morning News, “[It] didn’t take me long to realize I like working more than I like fishing.”

In fact, shortly after the cafe closed, Bill opened Bill Smith’s Buffet on Lake Fork in Alba. It specializes in seafood and leans into the legacy of AJ’s Fish House, which used to stand in its place and served locals catfish and shrimp for 20 years.

“If it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” explained Bill upon taking ownership of AJ’s, according to its website.

Now Bill is undertaking a new chapter in Van Alstyne, with the planned location of Bill Smith’s Cafe nestled downtown at 233 E. Jefferson St.

L.P. Welker Harness and Buggy Shop, a business dating back to the early 1900s, used to stand there, according to Local Profile.

Customers will recognize Bill Smith’s Cafe by the old neon sign hanging over the door.

“Some people have said, ‘The food just wouldn’t taste the same without the sign,’” Tiffany Chartier told the DMN.

Chartier is the executive administrator of Van Alstyne’s Community & Economic Development Office, which is eyeing Bill Smith’s Cafe as an opportunity to transform the town’s center.

Alongside providing an opportunity for the town of Van Alstyne, the relocation will likely be one of nostalgia for Bill.

“I think he saw a little bit of what McKinney used to be, in Van Alstyne,” suggested Rodney Williams, executive director of the Community & Economic Development Office, according to the DMN.

As The Dallas Express covered, Dallas-Fort Worth has seen tremendous growth over the past two decades, resulting in nearby towns like McKinney, Frisco, Denton, and Allen doubling in size.

At the very least, Bill will be able to get back into his old morning routine once the new location in Van Alstyne opens this fall.

“I’ve got to get the gravy going,” Bill said, according to the DMN. “I’ve got to get the biscuits going.”

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