HUMBLE, Texas – The only thing Tom Ott, the owner of Humble City Cafe, loves more than singing to his customers is talking to his customers.
Ott is a fixture in his restaurant, which he opened 20 years ago. He makes the rounds to every table, usually with a joke. When he’s not joking, he’s singing.
“Where else can you get that, right? You can’t get that at Chili’s can you?” said regular diner Jeff Armstrong. When asked what’s good on the menu, Ott said, “Anything in writing.”
“Our chicken fried chicken and chicken fried steak are like No. 1. People come from all over to get that,” said manager Roger Sullivan. “All our vegetables are homemade. You won’t find anything from a can back here,” he said, while standing in the kitchen.
The homemade cornbread is a winner, served in its own little cast iron skillet with homemade cinnamon butter.
The rolls come to the table looking as shiny as some of the antique glass displayed throughout the room with other memorabilia. It’s like, “coming to a small town restaurant, small town USA,” said Sam Naugle, a long-time diner. “It’s Americana, you know? That’s what it comes down to.”
The Humble City Cafe is housed in a 100-year-old building, the Pangburn Building.
“It’s solid. All the concrete blocks were built right here on the site and they were laid on the site, right here,” Ott said.
He used to have a Western Auto garage in the space. Western Auto stores disappeared, so Ott went into the restaurant business. He’s 80 years old and not about to slow down.
“Yeah, I thought about retiring,” he said, “but that’s for old people.”
The restaurant also has a banquet and reception hall upstairs. For more information, go to: humble city cafe.com.