Weldon’s: Best Chicken ‘n Dumplings in Houston!

Opening in 1949 as Weldon’s Cafeteria, the building at 4916 Main with the classic Frank Lloyd Wright lines has survived to see new life in Houston.

Once upon a time, Weldon’s Cafeteria on South Main in Houston offered the best plate of chicken ‘n dumplings in Houston, along with the full array of Southern Sunday Comfort Food that most of us used to eat after church on the weekends. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with butter and gravy, and a slice of dessert that covered all the caloric ground that could ever possibly hang upon us as the fat of smiling devil’s food after being first served up as apple pie or peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream heaped on top. These sweet and mouth-watering delights were all part of the family’s, we’ve-just-fed-our-souls-and-now-we’re-ready-to-pig-out-on-happy-people-food inclinations back in the day.

The interior of Weldon’s offered upstairs dining as an option for agile tray carriers.

Weldon’s operated as a cafeteria on this 4916 Main site south of downtown until the early 1970s. The old building with the classic Wright lines was actually designed by MacKie & Kamrath Architects. MacKie & Kamrath did a lot of work in Houston based on the design principles of Frank Lloyd Wright, but much of their local work has either been destroyed by fire or owner alterations over the years.

Not so at 4916.

Almost completely hidden on the south side by a gas station that had been constructed on the south side of the old Weldon’d building, the old building classic survived, either by accident or divine plan. During the years the building served as home to Massey’s Business College, from the early 1970s into the 1990s, the vaulted interior ceiling was hidden by a dropped false ceiling at nine-feet – and the classic exterior lines were hidden by the gas station – that has since been razed.

Since 1999, 4916 Main has shone again as the home of Ray + Hollington Architects.

When Ray & Hollington Architects then restored the building to its original facade and interior design features in 1999, they also moved in to use the place as their home office and design studio. For their grand effort, the Houston Preservation Alliance congratulated Ray & Hollington with an important Gold Brick for their restoration efforts.

We once had a deserved reputation in Houston for tearing down classics for the sake of converting space for use as strip malls and parking lots. As we move into the 21st century, I can’t say that we’ve totally recovered, or ever will, from the forces of greed and quick profit-minded people, but we are getting better at standing up for art, quality, and the preservation of history.

Put the Weldon’s Cafeteria building in the “save” category for now. Just don’t ever take for granted that it will stay there unless the forces for project identification and preservation stay alive, kicking, and wired for action.

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34 Responses to “Weldon’s: Best Chicken ‘n Dumplings in Houston!”

  1. Hazel Camara Says:

    I never had the pleasure of dining at Weldon’s; but there were other restaurants that served delicious chicken-n-dumplings. Restaurants such as DINNER BELL on Lawndale (when the Mims family owned it); Tel-a-Wink Grill on Telephone Road (when the Boise Family owned it) and Albritton’s Cafeteria on McKinney. It seemed that dumpling day was alwys on Thursdays and sometimes on Sunday at these restaurants/cafeterias.

    Dumpling; James Coney Island hot dogs and shrimp,in any fashion, are my variety foods. Does anyone know of a good dumpling place today? And, where can the best fried shrimp be found. I have not found friend shrimp to come near what Cal’s Oyster Bar/Restaurant (next to Wishing Well Drive In on Telephone Rd during the 1950-1960) use to serve.

    Thanks to the soul food memories…………….Hazel

  2. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Threadgill’s in Austin serves a mean bowl of chicken and dumplings as does Tony’s in Sealy at their luncheon buffets. There is nothing mediocre at Threadgills, either location, just large portions of comfort food. Their fried chicken livers and cream gravy and meatloaf will settle like a brick in your stomach….don’t plan on doing any substantive work after you have either, topped off with a slab of pecan pie. I think Hoover’s in Austin does good chicken and dumplings, too. I’d like to know of some Houston locales. Historical note: the Threadgills on North Lamar was the original Austin venue played by a young UT coed named Janis Joplin. It was just a gas station-beer hall back then.

  3. Oscar S. Says:

    Weldon’s had two seving lines and the fried filet of fish was awesome.
    Our family went there almost every Sunday for lunch.

  4. James Weldon Bates Says:

    John Asa and Alma Weldon, the owners of Weldons Cafeteria, were my beloved grandparents. As there only grandchild, I have lived my life personaly and in business, with the same passion and joy as my grandparents. Alltough the Cafeteria is gone and my grandparents have passed, I have continued to share with others, the wonderful dishes and as well catering social and business events.
    As a kid, my Granny(Alma Weldon), spent her time cooking and sharing the wonderful meals that many had come to know and love. These dishes were an everyday treat to me and now my family and 3 children. I noticed several years back the remarkable interest and desire to find the secret to these meals that so many remembered. I believe that more than the food, that it is the Sunday family bonding that everyone remembers the most.
    Maybee it is just the dumplings or the apple pie. To my family it is much more.
    For more information you can contact myself, James Weldon Bates, to inquire about Weldons Cafeteria and Weldons Family Cookbook.
    Phone: 713-557-8120
    Email: vbbates@yahoo.com

  5. Kimberly A. Patella Says:

    Yesterday, we went to Lakewood Church for prayer as they have a prayer room open to anyone who needs it on Fridays at Lakewood and when we left we went over to what used to be the site of one of the last Albritton’s Cafeterias in Houston which was at Edloe St. and Bissonnet and was shocked to find it was not there anymore. I am 59 years old, born and raised in Houston and loving Albritton’s cafeterias my whole life, but moved to League City when I married in 1987 to a marine biologist who worked for the NOAA division of the Federal Government in Galveston for over 40 years and just recently retired. So I have not been able, due to family illness with my parents and my own person illness to come back to Albritton’s for several years now and I am very sad to see it gone. No cafeteria and most restaurants were ever as good and unless it has been moved I am very very much at a loss. My parents loved it for over 50 years too!

  6. Richard Newsum Says:

    My father was the minister of a church not very far from Weldons. On Friday nights, he would teach a church class in the Garden Room which was on the second floor of the Weldons building. This would have been in the 1956 to 1960 time frame. People would go through the line and take their food up to the room and eat while he taught the class. I would go with him on occasion and remember how wonderful the fried chicken was as well as the custard pie. I also remember something I never saw anywhere else in Houston–there was an organ grinder with a monkey who took up station outside Weldons. The monkey would tip his cap if you put money in his cup–not sure whatever happened to this act–it was the end of the era for that kind of thing. The staff at Weldon’s was always friendly and nice and set the standard for what a cafeteria should be all about.

  7. lastest dvd release Says:

    lastest dvd release…

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  8. C Kelly Says:

    I have very fond memories of Weldon’s. We lived in Sugar Land, and until Sharpstown opened we drove downtown to shop. Weldon’s was a frequent stop. Terrific food. I’d forgotten about the organ grinder, but remember him now that Richard brought it up. I also remember they put up pennants of all the Houston high schools during football season.

  9. AJH Says:

    My family ate here often…as a child, I loved the fried chicken and the macaroni and cheese. There were two serving lines, and I remember that in back of the building there was a separate “chicken to go” entry. Such fond memories…there was also Youngblood’s fried chicken on S Main, Bill Williams, but I loved Weldon’s.

  10. Pamela Morse Says:

    My family ate here often! We lived in Baytown and it was always worth the drive! my fondest memory was the Pineapple Cake! My mother and sisters usually ordered it, while my dad was more of a coconut pie man! I would so love to have the recipe!!!

  11. Vb5190@aol.com Says:

    I had requested a copy of their cookbook but haven’t received yet it has Ben a couple of weeks at least

  12. Asa Says:

    Really was an extraordinary place; summer Sundays early on over 5,000 customers dined and took food to-go. The big boss man and my mom ( known by us and employees as Mr. & Mrs. A W )invented Pic-Nic-Chik which was in a yellow and brown box with a big yellow/chicken printed on the side. My dad said he was pleased one time to see empty boxes in the Domeskeller on lower level of Astrodome ! Have a fine snack, Y’all ! John Asa Weldon, Houston

  13. Asa Says:

    I was in line at Weldon’s one summerday very near the organ grinder and his monkey. My friend’s father was just finishing his cigar, when monkey stuck out his hand . . . . my friend’s dad handed the monkey the cigar stub, still smoking, and monkey put it in his pocket .. . . .mmmmmmm good ! jaw

    • Vb5190@aol.com Says:

      In today’s life of animal rights, which is so way overdue, that SOB would have been, and should have been, arrested. Any progress with the family on getting a cookbook?

  14. Vb5190@aol.com Says:

    Comments on the chicken and dumplin’s are here but I don’t find a recipe as suggested. Any insight to getting a cookbook

  15. Asa Says:

    George Mikelis’ Cleburne Cafeteria, on Bissonnet near Channel 13 today in my opinion BEST CAFETERIA ” ANYWHERE “. jaw

    • Pamela Morse Says:

      How can I get a recipe book?!

      Sent from my iPhone


      • vb5190@aol.com Says:

        I have requested a book several times but have had no response. What to do?

        Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

      • Vicki Barton Says:

        I have requested a book several times but have had no response. Are they available

        Sent from my iPad


  16. Asa Says:

    Guys/Ladies; best of my knowledge : THERE’S NO RECIPES BOOK . . . . simple as that. It’s wishful thinking today that drives much of the world. If anyone finds/has knowledge of ‘recipe book from Weldon’s’ please let us know. Thanks, John Asa Weldon, son of Weldon’s owners/builders/operators ! Love Ya, Houston !

  17. janet and don davis Says:

    would love to know if there was ever a weldons in rice village I thought there was only one on main but have a friend who insists there was one on rice village my parent ate at weldons every night I was 12 and my parents did business with them would love to have an answer to rice village

  18. Vicki Barton Says:

    Not to my knowledge. just the one on Main I was born in Houston 1949 and moved in 1979

  19. Vicki Barton Says:

    A cookbook was supposed to be in the making by a family member. Is it progressing?

  20. Carolyn Grizzaffi Says:

    Mom is 95 and we were talking about Weldon’s the other day. When I go to Mann Eye Clinic I always have to pause for a second and cherish the memories! Saw this site because I am starving for chicken and dumplings!

    • vicki barton Says:

      has anything ever materialized about the cookbook or any of the recipes. this is a WASTE to not be able to obtain.

  21. vicki barton Says:

    how about Cleburne Cafeteria or Allbrittons or what was the one downtown it was downstairs if I remember correctly from Woolworths

  22. Dehaven Payne Says:

    Asa and Alma Weldon were my great aunt and uncle on my mother’s side. My mother was a Peggy Sitton (Madden name). Asa and Alma were both wonderful people that enjoyed providing the people of Houston with wonderful food. My grandfather C.H. Sitton also owned cafeteria’s in Houston off Buffalo speedway and in San Angelo Texas. C.H like Alma ( his sister) and Asa had a passion for people and good food. They were all wonderful people and dearly loved by family and friends alike. They are truly missed.

    • vb5190@aol.com Says:

      Do you possibly have any other of their recipes. i loved that place!!! and their beef stew had just a little something different and I can taste to this day. fond memories of my grandmother going with us when she visited.

    • vb5190@aol.com Says:

      Im not finding the recipe on here

  23. Claudia Hogan Says:

    James Weldon Bates posted in September 2010 that he had cookbooks available. Its been a while…. maybe that is no longer the case, but it seems like they would sell quite a few if it were. I would like to buy one also. I, too, cherish the memories! Every July 4th, my parents and I would go eat dinner there and watch the fire works in Hermann Park. Good times….

  24. Sandra Hurt Says:

    Just looked up the phone number for James Weldon Bates. It appears to be the same one he listed above 713-557-8120 has anyone tried calling it and inquiring about the cookbook?

  25. Rick & McDowell Says:

    Mr John Asa Weldon — please send me a “Weldon’s Cafeteria Cookbok” — I understand you are selling them now
    Rick McDowell

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