Katrina and Travis Carpenter are a dynamic duo, excited to grow their business here in Fort Worth and make the community better for future generations. Katrina, a former dyslexia educator who bakes heavenly surprises, and Travis, who works at a local distributor in North Fort Worth when he’s not barbecuing chicken and brisket, have weathered a succession of storms to bring their unique menu to the Fort. 

Tell us how you got started.

“Our business was born from a passion to serve others. We get pleasure from people’s satisfaction with our service. Through that we became masters of chicken salad. We did some pop-ups, then an airstream trailer in the SoMa District in Fort Worth’s Near Southside with Arcadia Coffee where we co-occupied the space for about six months from July to December 2019. It was just me in the airstream serving chicken salad sandwiches, before Hot Box Biscuit Club and Tinies [came on the scene].”

Let’s talk about the The Smoky Chick.

“Our menu is built around it; however, I didn’t always use smoked chicken. One day Travis smoked a chicken, and I made chicken salad with the leftovers and never turned back. There’s something about the smoked chicken that’s special.”

Note: The Smoky Chick has won a few awards and is well known by locals.

Tell us about the Grown Folks No-Nana Pudding.

“Banana pudding is a thing. All the soul food and barbecue restaurants have banana pudding. Some people like just cookie pudding. I’m always thinking about pleasing my customers, and what is going to set us apart. I use banana rum and banana liqueur in a pudding that doesn’t have sliced bananas.”

“It’s all in the flick of the wrist (laughing). I want people to have a lasting impression in a good way when they leave, and see the pride that we have for the quality of the food.”


Are there any other local entrepreneurs that inspire you? 

"I find inspiration from a dynamic group of local female entrepreneurs, among whom are Demetria Lenford of Creative Prep & Nutrition and Takiyah Wallace of Brown Girls Do Ballet stand out prominently. Their entrepreneurial journeys reflect a shared commitment to making a positive impact on our community. 

"Chef Demetria, fondly known as Chef MeMe, is a culinary force reshaping Fort Worth's hospitality landscape. With a repertoire of talents, she stands out as a beacon of inspiration as the sole Minority-owned and operated business providing Meal Prep options in a fully stocked storefront. Despite her culinary prowess taking her across states, Chef MeMe has chosen to establish deep roots in our city. Her commitment goes beyond just crafting delicious meals; it's about imparting knowledge. In a world where health and nutrition matter, Chef MeMe has become a local educator, emphasizing the significance of finding nutritional value in food through portion control and meticulously planned, expertly prepared meals.Her culinary journey is more than just a business; it's a dedication to community wellness. 

"TaKiyah Wallace, a fellow Fort Worth native, is leaving an indelible mark through her impactful work with Brown Girls Do Ballet. Her dedication to ensuring that our young ones, both girls and boys, have access to the beautiful art of ballet is truly something to celebrate. Takiyah's efforts not only expose children to the world of ballet but also ensure they are seen and valued while pursuing their passion. Her commitment to fostering inclusivity and empowerment is an inspiration for us all."


What's the best part of being a local business owner in Fort Worth? 

"One of the most gratifying aspects of being a local business owner in Fort Worth is the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals dedicated to reshaping the trajectory of the small business hospitality scene in our city.

"And you know what really fires me up? Knowing that I'm planting seeds right here in a city that's been in my family for generations. It's about building a legacy, making a statement that says, 'We were here, and we made it awesome.' Fort Worth is more than just a spot on the map; it's home, and I'm all in to make it even better for the generations that come after us."


What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs? 

"Hey young entrepreneurs, here's a nugget of wisdom from my journey: Embrace the hustle, but don't forget to enjoy the ride. Success doesn't happen overnight, so be patient and stay persistent. Surround yourself with mentors and peers who inspire you, and never underestimate the power of networking. Learn from failures, they're stepping stones to success. And most importantly, stay true to your passion—let it be the driving force behind every decision. Your journey is uniquely yours, so own it with confidence and resilience!"


[Conversation edited for clarity.]