A homey new restaurant serving breakfast and lunch has opened in Plano with gingerbread pancakes and chicken fried steak. Called the Red Truck Cafe, it's located at 910 W. Parker Rd., where it's open seven days a week from 5:30 am-2:30 pm.
Red Truck Cafe comes from James Wells, a restaurant veteran who took over a space with its own long history of breakfast. Since 2014, it was a restaurant called Mama Jenny's Family Diner; prior to that, it was a location of Chubby's, the local comfort food chain, for more than 20 years.
Wells is a familiar figure to any Plano breakfast aficionado. He worked at Poor Richard's Cafe, Plano's longtime breakfast spot on Avenue K, where he'd been general manager for many years.
The menu at Red Truck is a sprawling combination of breakfast, homey comfort food, sandwiches, breakfast, patty melts, salads, and blue plate specials, almost like one of those old-time diners that serves just about everything.
At lunch, you can get a Cobb salad, chicken-fried steak, chopped steak with mushrooms and brown gravy, liver & onions, or fried catfish. You can get nachos, burgers, a BLT, grilled cheese, or a blackened fish sandwich.
There are sides like onion rings and an appetizer called "nuts and bolts," the name playing off on the truck theme, with fried mushrooms and zucchini, served with horseradish cream sauce.
And like a home-cooking place, there's a whole collection of veggie sides like mashed potatoes, fried okra, zucchini & yellow squash, turnip greens, and applesauce. A veggie plate with your choice of five costs $8.
Blue plate specials, priced from $8 to $9, include meatloaf on Mondays, pot roast on Tuesdays, turkey & dressing on Wednesdays, chicken & dumplings on Thursdays, and of course a fish fry on Fridays.
"I'm trying to keep prices affordable for people to bring in their families," Wells says.
The name is symbolic of both the restaurant's aspirations as well as Wells' background.
"I liked the idea of an automative/car theme," he says. "But also, I grew up in a rural area by Rowlett — I lived on a small farm, where a pickup truck was essential. I remember that when pickup trucks became available to the farming industry, it gave small farmers a way to take their produce to market. So it's kind of a symbol of the farm-to-table ethic."
Wells, 68, has worked in restaurants all his life, from his first job as a bus boy and dishwasher when he fell in love with the industry.
"I like the people, and being a part of the community," he says. "I also think restaurants serve as an ambassador for the community. When visitors come to town, they go out to eat, and restaurants represent the community that way."