John Hirschi has always been attracted to the big house on the hill at 800 Kemp Boulevard. In fact, 20 years ago, he considered buying it to live in. Flash forward 20 years and he now owns it and it is becoming the much anticipated Fox Hill Restaurant and Gardens. “I tried to get some restaurateurs to buy it and open a restaurant here, and they wouldn’t do it. So, I bought it myself about 2 years ago,” Mr. Hirschi said with a smile.
Construction began a year ago and recently opened for business, just in time for the holidays. “This is my baby. When I couldn’t get anyone else to do it, I took the bull by the horns. I have been an organic gardener for years. We will recycle everything that we can and create a really nice sustainable operation,” he said. “This house was built in 1922 and was structurally sound,” John added, “but the kitchen was too small, so we doubled the size of it. We left the bones of the house as it was and are bringing it back up to first quality standards. The largest part was putting in the parking lot. Then we successfully took the pool and turned it into a fish pond.” The restaurant will be a farm to table restaurant, and Mr. Hirschi said that it is the only one in Wichita Falls. “I don’t believe that there is one in Dallas or Fort Worth either,” he added.
The restaurant sits on 8 acres of land with rainwater collection as the major source of water. “We are building gardens and growing foods with no pesticides or herbicides for our menu, and what we can’t raise, we will be picking up from area farmers in Thornberry,” he said. And of course, the meat will be grass fed without hormones. “The food is eclectic and is more interesting than any other food in Wichita Falls. It will be healthy and not fast food,” Mr. Hirschi said. “There is a whole movement towards ‘slow food’, where you take your time and enjoy the meal. You can enjoy the food and the grounds as well. There is a lot to see.” The gardening activity will be visible on the north and south side, and the plan is to grow a grape vineyard on either side of the driveway. “The first thing you will see will be the grapes growing on a wooden fence,” he said. There will be full bar and the rooms upstairs can be reserved for private parties.
They anticipate weddings and receptions in this idyllic setting. The views are great, and the grand staircase would look lovely with a bride coming down it. There is also a show stopping fireplace in one of the downstairs rooms. Designer Pam Moller and the ceramic studio at Midwestern State University worked together to create Moller’s vision. The fireplace is covered with ceramic leaves with a vintage look. If you didn’t know that it was recently installed, you would think that it was a gem from the past.
The restaurant has been showing off the skills of its chef with “pop up” dinners at The Forum since last year. “Well, we wanted to expose the public to our kind of cooking,” Mr. Hirschi said. “The chef designed the set menu each night. Once we open, we will have an extended menu, but we will have monthly prefixed dinners where wines will be selected to go with each dish.” The restaurant is located at 800 Kemp Boulevard. You can contact them at (940) 432-5541.