Roscoe White bought the Easy Way Cafe back in 1944, when rents were a lot cheaper, slot machines were legal and the Dallas North Tollway was a railroad line. But while people and things changed all around it, the Easy Way remained a constant: Roscoe’s mix of hospitality and tasty barbecue has never been spoiled by success. Today Roscoe is 77, but his brand of good, cheap food and friendly service has yet to go out of style. Even today the Easy Way is a place where folks from all walks of life seem to peacefully coexist in the name of their palates. During a typical lunch hour you’ll see people dressed in everything from dirty T-shirts to pinstriped suits munching on Roscoe’s ribs. It’s been a little bit of Luckenbach nestled in between the Park Cities.
But the Easy Way has fallen prey to the Dallas style of doing business: The land has become too valuable to be utilized as a humble cafe. The property, located on the southeast corner of the Dallas North Tollway and Lover’s Lane, is worth a small fortune. Roscoe and his wife, Tera, who have been greeting customers every day for the last four decades, got an offer they couldn’t refuse and decided to sell the Easy Way to a local developer who plans to construct-surprise-a three-story office building.
When they tear down the walls of the Easy Way-it’s due to close its doors in a month or two-a lot of history and memories will be tagging along. Some of the Easy Way’s regulars have included the late Dallas County Judge Lew Sterrett, Southwest Airlines Board Chairman Herb Kelleher and Dallas televison star Steve Kanaly, not to mention countless Dallas judges, clergymen and legislators. But it is the regular people who have been the biggest contributors to the Easy Way’s sustenance, people like Louis Brown, who, as a member of the Easy Way Social Club, has dropped in every morning the past 25 years for a cup of coffee. Those are the folks who will miss the Easy Way the most.
“I had my first beer right here in this room,” said a Dallas rags merchant lunching at the Easy Way one recent afternoon. “I’m not worried about what’s going to happen to Roscoe and Tera. I’m worried about where I’m going to go to eat lunch.”
Although his beloved Easy Way is closing, we may not have heard the last of Roscoe White. He and his son Fred White, a restaurant consultant, are searching for a place to open another barbecue joint. Apparently the thought of retirement is a bit unpleasant to Roscoe. “If I didn’t do this, what else would I do?” he asks.