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Texas's quintessential waitress Wendy Jimenez has run her own cafe for two years in Comfort. The Henhouse Cafe offers comfort food daily and live music every weekend. Photo by Phil Houseal

The Henhouse Cafe is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday night for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. They have daily lunch specials, and "dress it up a little at night" with steak and seafood entrees. Live music year round on Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. Call 830-995-5793.

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The Henhouse Cafe

by Phil Houseal
Jan 2, 2008

Texas Monthly proclaimed hill country resident Wendy Jimenez to be the quintessential Texas waitress. Now she owns her own restaurant and may prove even better at preparing meals than she was at serving them.

Her Henhouse Cafe nestles at the junction of Highways 27 and 87 just down the road in Comfort. Its specialties include live music and comfort food.

"The ultimate in comfort food," Jimenez corrected me. "This is home cooking."

The chilly day I stopped by I wallowed in a meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn, with indescribable bread pudding for dessert. Yum. Jimenez gives credit to her cooks and the quality of the ingredients. She prefers to shop herself so she can get the pick of the crop. "I try to keep quality high and prices as low as I can," she explained.

It was never a dream of hers to own a restaurant. In fact, the Comfort native had other opportunities to run a cafe, but preferred to work as a waitress. Her vocation was validated the night a reporter from Texas Monthly stopped by.

"It was a Friday night - which is when we did our steak night. It was a full house, and I was the only server," she recalled. "I had about 20 tables going all at once, and she was impressed by that."

In 2005 Jimenez again got the opportunity to take over a restaurant. This time, she decided to take it.

She has built up a steady clientele with a mix of local regulars and visitors sent by shop owners on Comfort's increasingly popular High Street. Jimenez also features live music every Friday and Saturday night year round. Her refrigerator is literally covered with snapshots of Jimenez with all of her favorite musicians. They include the Dust Devils, Thomas Michael Riley, Lloyd Bonham, Reckless Kelly, Sisters Morales, Darden Smith, Ian Moore, Terri Hendrix, Doug Fessler, and local hero Josh Peek ("I knew his mother when she was pregnant with him").

"I don't play or sing, but Texas music is kind of a passion for me," she explained. "I love listening to live music, and the hill country is so rich with local talent. I love to support it and to give them more exposure. I don't pay well, but we feed them really good food and let them drink some beer so they kind of like that."

She hosts acoustic singer-songwriters every weekend, and in the summer brings in a full band once a month. They play outside on the porch, where Jimenez's staff provides food, wine, and "ice cold beer served in a frozen glass."

So what is the difference between working in and owning a restaurant?

She doesn't hesitate. "It's a lot more paperwork! But I enjoy it. It's kind of fun when people ask what do you do for a living and I say I own this neat little cafe in Comfort."

And, Texas's quintessential waitress has not completely abandoned that trade.

"I still waitress here a lot of shifts," she said. "I love waitressing. It's fun for me, and I love the people that I see on a regular basis. Some come in daily, and I have formed some really good relationships and friendships."

And why should people make the drive from Fredericksburg?

"Because we have a really fun atmosphere and very good food," she said. "The food alone is worth the drive. I'm proud of what we do here."