Grapevine’s historic district is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. There is not a business on Main Street that has had more people come through its doors than Willhoite’s Restaurant, which opened January 17, 1981, as Grapevine’s first full-service restaurant and is one of the oldest restaurants still operating in the city.
Owners of the 37-year-old dining and entertainment venue recently restored the front entrance to its original appearance (based on photographs from the 1920s). The renovation included replacing all the brick on front façade; reconstructing the columns; removing the partial brick wall around patio area; installing new windows and signage; and repainting the south and west exterior walls.
According to co-owner Eric Parker, the project was an opportunity to further solidify Willhoite’s in Grapevine history. Built in 1913, the building first served as a department store and was used for a time as a theater. In 1919, it was transformed into Willhoite Garage, the first full-service automotive station in Grapevine. Co-owner Phil Parker, a Grapevine native, purchased the building in 1980 and renovated it into Willhoite's Restaurant, restoring it as authentically as possible and keeping many aspects of the automotive shop.
“Willhoite’s already pays tribute to its long-standing roots in the city with original brick walls and ceiling, a gas pump outside the front entrance, and buffet station that is topped with a 1927 Model T Ford – which is a tourist attraction on its own,” Eric Parker explained. “Renovating the front entrance is the last piece of our historical preservation efforts and just in time for our 37th anniversary. We are proud to be one of the oldest businesses on Main Street and offer a glimpse into Grapevine’s history. We want to be the first place people visit when they come to Grapevine.”
Encompassing nearly 9,000 square feet, Willhoite’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch, and live music six nights a week. For more information, visit www.willhoites.com.