By CLINT FOSTER
The local Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is under new management and hometown co-owners Jim Kostiha and Jason Sizemore have big plans for the future of their new restaurant and its place in a downtown brimming with potential for growth.
Kostiha – who also owns Old School Pizza in Mineral Wells and has been in the restaurant business for about six years – was quite familiar with the baja-style taco chain from his days as a student at Texas Christian University.
Among Fort Worth natives, especially the Horned Frog faithful, the original Fuzzy’s on Berry Street has something of a cult following.
When Kostiha heard the local Fuzzy’s, at 306 North Oak Ave., was for sale, he said he didn’t hesitate to call his friend Sizemore so the two could go into business together.
“This has been years in the making,” Kostiha said. “We just had somebody call with interest about us doing something at Fuzzy’s.
“Jason was the first person I thought about, so I called him and he was on board.”
Sizemore, who was teaching and coaching at Weatherford High School when Kostiha called, took his friend up on his proposal without a second thought and resigned from his job to head west.
“I’m always up for a new adventure and had always wanted to do something like this,” Sizemore said. “I just jumped on the opportunity, especially after I came over and visited the place. It’s such a unique place, how could you not want to work here?”
Because both men grew up in and around Mineral Wells, they said it holds a special place in their hearts.
Since they officially purchased Fuzzy’s, the news came down of the $56 million dollar project to revive the legendary Baker Hotel and thereby provide a significant boost to the entire city of Mineral Wells, particularly the downtown area. Kostiha and Sizemore said the Baker news was the perfect icing on the cake to their latest acquisition.
“I just think Mineral Wells has so much promise to it,” Kostiha said. “The future of the downtown area after the Baker gets up and going; that’s what will be nice, because it can transform into something to where there are little shops and places to stop and get a drink or eat.
“It just fits into the mix perfectly and we’re in on the ground floor. Hopefully, with the Baker and everything else that’s coming through, there will be some good things in the future for Mineral Wells.”
Kostiha said not only does he hope that the Baker will provide a boost to Fuzzy’s business once it is open, but also during
its renovation. He said all of the construction going on will surely generate a great deal of foot traffic through the downtown area and all of those workers will need a convenient place to eat.
Once the Baker is finished, Kostiha and Sizemore believe the sky is the limit for downtown Mineral Wells. They hope to cater to the crowds that the historic hotel draws to town, even making a private space available in their restaurant that could be used for rehearsal dinners for weddings happening at the Baker or even business meetings.
“It won’t just stimulate us, it will stimulate the whole community,” Sizemore said of the Baker project. “This downtown has a lot to offer with these old buildings. If you fixed them all up like (Fuzzy’s) has been, we’re not that far from Weatherford and Fort Worth and it could be a neat place to come.”
As great as the Baker and its prospective guests could be for the new Fuzzy’s owners, Kostiha and Sizemore said their target audience is local families. They hope the combination of their unique atmosphere, occasional live music and quality food will attract Mineral Wells families in droves.
“We just need people back,” Kostiha said. “The food isn’t the way it has been for six months. It’s fresh and really high quality. That’s what we’re focusing on, as well as customer service.”
“Our focus has been trying to get families to come in,” Sizemore added. “It’s a family environment. We just happen to have a bar. With this patio that we have, we just have a lot to offer that a lot of other restaurants in Mineral Wells don’t.
“There’s a lot of families out there and people that were not going to come back and I hope that with new ownership – and we have changed things around, even in two weeks – that they’ll give us that opportunity and come back.”