Fort Worth Apron Collectors Can Tie One On

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The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is now giving restaurant apron collectors the chance to beef up their Fort Worth holdings.

In conjunction with its showing of "The Apron Chronicles," a traveling photographic exhibit managed by The Women's Museum of Dallas, the museum's raffling off autographed aprons from restaurants including Lonesome Dove, Bonnell's, Reata, Brownstone, Eddie V's, Ellerbe and Grace. Tickets are priced at $1 apiece; money raised from the raffle will benefit the museum's educational programs.

Exhibit curator EllynAnne Geisel suspects aprons emblazoned with a restaurant's name and designed to echo its décor are a relatively recent innovation. Her personal apron collection ends in the mid-1960s and doesn't include any examples of the logo-ed, unisex aprons that most restaurants now issue their staffers.

"The idea is it's not individual," says Geisel, who's far more interested in the quirky, one-off aprons hand-sewn by homemakers. "Nobody has made it."

But apron fans whose curiosities center on restaurant history rather than home economics have helped make restaurant aprons collectible, Geisel says. Restaurants that once sold only T-shirts and sauces are responding by adding aprons to their merchandise mix. As Geisel points out, customers can now buy souvenir aprons at Krispy Kreme -- although few of the Fort Worth restaurants participating in the raffle regularly make their aprons available.

The raffle drawing's scheduled for April 2, giving winners one day before the exhibit closes to take advantage of a deal offered throughout the exhibit's run: Wearing an apron is good for $1 off admission.

But visitors might want to be cautious about strutting through the museum in a Tim Love apron: One of the exhibit's subjects, Frank Frost from Santa Barbara, recounts in the oral history accompanying his portrait an incident when he wore a commemorative apron from Paul Bocuse's Michelin-starred restaurant near Lyon. One of his guests mistook his souvenir for a personalized apron, and insisted upon calling him Paul.

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