In 1983, Kevin Von Ehrenfried was struggling through college at VCU while scrubbing dishes on the side to help pay for school.
Over three decades later, the 52-year-old self-made restaurateur is the proud co-owner of Pouring Glory, Fort Worth’s new craft and growler filling station that is helping reignite a once desolate part of town.
Located at 1001 Bryan Ave. in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth, Pouring Glory is a combination of both a restaurant and a craft and growler filling station. Von Ehrenfried said the idea came to him and co-owner Scott Glover, who couldn’t be reached for comment, after the two men took their passion for food and combined it with the growing trend of craft and growler establishments.
“They’re not doing any food,” he said. “I might pick up a growler and go home, but I wouldn’t take my wife or family there. So with Scott and I both being food guys we were like, ‘We need to add food to this whole growler program.’ We’re taking the beers that are available to us and infusing them in a lot of our menu items.”
Renovated from a historic building constructed in 1943, the filling station’s exposed brick, concrete floors and edison bulbs give it an industrial “Steam Punk” vibe, according to the filling station’s website. Since opening last December for nights only, Von Ehrenfried said the response from the Fort Worth community has been greater than he had expected.
“It’s tough being a new brand, a new company, a new concept in a new area,” he said. “There are a lot of things you can forecast or project, but there’s just a lot of uncertainty too… Once we get them here, we have them, and the amount of people that are bringing people back… The community has been wonderful.”
But while thousands of Fort Worth foodies and beer drinkers have piled their way into the new craft and growler establishment, the process of opening a new restaurant has not been easy for Von Ehrenfried, who said he and his family have both had to make sacrifices since the filling station opened.
“The last six months [free time] has been nonexistent,” said Von Ehrenfried, who lives in Dallas with his wife and five of his nine children. “It’s six months of 100-hour weeks. I rush home to get to my family as quick as I can… It’s a sacrifice that as a family we’ve made to branch out and do something on our own.”
However, the culinary veteran with over 30 years of experience has exhibited a strong work ethic and dedication to his craft since he was a boy. He said he was given tough love at an early age by his father, who worked in education, but he also said the advice he gained has helped mold him into the restaurateur and businessman he is today.
“I knew if I wasn’t going to get into education that I had to be better at commitment, better at hard work,” he said. “The restaurant business can be brutal… If you’re committed and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s a paid education.”
It also doesn’t help that he inherited the culinary prowess of his grandmother, who he said was one of the first chefs to ever appear on television.
Born in Houston, Von Ehrenfried has bounced around the country since settling in Dallas in the mid-1980s. He said he moved around a lot as a kid to states including Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and Colorado. Growing up with one older brother and one younger sister, he said having such a large family has been an adjustment, but a very worthy one.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” he said laughingly. “It’s a blessing. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Building on the basic principles of success grounded by his father, Von Ehrenfried’s culinary spark ignited shortly after beginning college, when he said he took his dishwasher job and turned it into a career after working his way up to the top.
“I just got sucked up into the business,” he said. “Schoolwork went to the side. I enjoyed cooking and the restaurant business and I’ve been in it ever since… I just saw the potential to really get after it.”
Von Ehrenfried said he then moved to Dallas, where he spent 29 years at Ram International, Ltd. and worked his way up from assistant kitchen manager to director of operations.
It was afterward when the former dishwasher-turned-director hatched the idea to open his own restaurant after reuniting with Glover, who Von Ehrenfried said was the first sous chef he hired when he worked as a regional chef in 1989.
“He’s always been a close friend,” he said. “I kind of leveled out where I was at and I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to jump out and open up a restaurant of my own. I was looking at a location near his house so I gave him a call and said, ‘Hey, I’m finally making the leap of faith. I’m finally going to do something on my own.’”
Glover, who Von Ehrenfried said left the culinary business to start his own cable installation company, told him he had been looking into doing something similar with his wife. He said the two sat down and talked about the idea and ultimately decided to pursue the opportunity together.
“We said, “Hey let’s do it,’” he said. “So we looked all over DFW until we found this location and the rest is history.”
Soon, Von Ehrenfried would be standing foot in a restaurant of his own creation. He said he still remembers all the emotions he felt when he opened the doors for the first time.
“It came real, real quick, that’s for sure,” he said after a quick chuckle. “It was a potpourri of emotions. The excitement of having our own business and not working for somebody else, that was emotional.”
But since it’s inception, Pouring Glory has become one of Fort Worth’s hottest new dining and sipping spots, an achievement Von Ehrenfried said is both heartwarming and fulfilling.
“For people to come in and have good fellowship, good food, good beer and a great environment, it’s just a great little formula for everybody,” he said. “In the restaurant business, you’re always going to be critiqued… Seeing all walks of life come into our restaurant and have an experienced they’ve never had, that was kind of the bell that went off and had me like, ‘Wow.’”
More significantly, Pouring Glory is helping reignite a burnt out area of Fort Worth stretching from Rosedale Street to Interstate Highway 30 that Von Ehrenfried said has been ignored for a long time.
“It’s been depressed for 50 years,” he said. “This area has been avoided for so many years, so it’s really kind of a learning curve for us to get the exposure out and say, ‘Hey, this is part of a new area that’s being revitalized, it’s not what you think it is,’ and getting people to experience it.”
In the end, while Pouring Glory is bringing new attention to an older part of town, the ever-changing restaurant industry keeps Von Ehrenfried on edge. And as he looks toward the future, he sees similar establishments getting ready to take Fort Worth’s south side by the horns.
“We’re kind of pioneering that, being the first one open here,” he said. “But they’ll be more coming, so you always have to stay focused. There’s just a lot of opportunity here as far as this area being turned around. It’s the next hot spot.”