Lancarte, Esperanza T. Garcia [Hope] (1928–2014)


By: Micaela Valadez

Type: Biography

Published: July 12, 2022

Updated: July 20, 2022


Esperanza “Hope” T. Garcia Lancarte, restaurateur and CEO of Joe T. Garcia’s Enterprises, Inc., was born Esperanza T. Garcia on August 26, 1928, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Joe Tafolla Garcia and Jesusa “Jessie” or “Mama Sus” (Torres) Garcia. Prior to marriage her mother emigrated from Michoacán, Mexico, to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1909; her father in 1913. Her father operated a barbecue stand in a grocery store owned by his uncle John S. Garcia and served the packinghouse workers. Joe opened a small Mexican-food restaurant, called Joe’s Place, in 1935 with the help of his wife and children and eventually changed the name to Joe T. Garcia’s around 1948. By this time, the restaurant had already hosted powerful politicians, including Beauford Jester, Allan Shivers, and John Connally, and businessmen alongside residents of their Mexican American North Fort Worth community. After the sudden death of their father in 1953, Hope, her mother, and her sister, Mary, were thrust into managing the already popular restaurant. They kept the restaurant afloat through financial difficulties and continued to build Joe T. Garcia’s into one of Fort Worth’s most famous local restaurants. Its reputation drew such notable customers as Carol Burnett, Elvis, Dorothy Malone, Jimmy Stewart, Charleton Heston, Cesar Romero, William Holden, Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer, and Tom Schieffer.

The family ground corn for masa at the home of a neighbor who owned a lava stone molino. The neighbor’s son Paul Lancarte attended North Side High School with Hope Garcia. On January 2, 1947, Hope Garcia married Paul Lancarte, a classmate at North Side High School whose mother owned the molino with which the Garcia family ground corn for masa for the restaurant. Paul Lancarte subsequently helped manage Joe T. Garcia’s. They divorced in 1971. The couple had seven children, all of whom Hope Lancarte raised to work in the family business. Their

Helping her mother and father at Joe T. Garcia’s was the beginning of Lancarte’s career. She later launched a catering business and created the Joe T. Garcia’s Enterprises, Inc., in 1979. Throughout her decades of management, Lancarte grew, remodeled, and modernized the restaurant and its labor practices, which previously had been rooted in the traditions of immigrant family businesses. In the 1970s the restaurant was investigated by the United States Department of Labor for non-payment of wages, violations of child labor and minimum wage laws, and involvement in the trafficking of young women from Mexico to work in the restaurant. Lancarte denied these allegations. While most of the charges were dismissed, Lancarte paid $48,400 in fines and back wages, then adapted the business’s labor practices. In the 1980s, recognizing that there were few businesses that sold Mexican baked goods or other “to go” foods (such as burritos, tamales, and empanadas), Lancarte opened Esperanza’s Bakery and Cafe across the street from the restaurant. She later opened a second Esperanza’s location in Fort Worth. Under her management, Joe T. Garcia’s won the James Beard Foundation’s American Classics Award for “best grass-roots restaurant” in 1998 as well as many other awards and recognitions locally and statewide. In addition, the restaurant and corporation supported the Fort Worth community through fundraising events that, by the time of Hope’s death, raised more than $10 million for various causes, including the Lena Pope Home and Cassata Learning Center. 

Esperanza “Hope” Garcia Lancarte died on November 20, 2014, in Fort Worth. She was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Fort Worth.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, January 28, 1972; August 29, 1993; May 7, 8, 1998; June 22, 2001; November 22, 23, 2014. “Joe T. Garcia's,” Foodways Texas (http://foodwaystexas.com/oralhistory/joe-t-garcias/), accessed July 18, 2019. J’Nell Pate, North of the River: A Brief History of North Fort Worth (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1994).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Micaela Valadez, “Lancarte, Esperanza T. Garcia [Hope],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/lancarte-esperanza-t-garcia-hope.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

July 12, 2022
July 20, 2022

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: