Meet the Man Behind Z's Cafe

Carlo Capua

| photography by Alex Lepe |

Carlo Capua got his humanitarian side from his mother, who tirelessly helps people, he said. His work ethic and business sense came from watching his dad work hard in the car business. Fort Worth’s Z’s Café, a social enterprise partnership with local nonprofit Samaritan House, has over the past seven years provided jobs to more than 100 low-income men and women.

Capua, Z’s co-owner and general manager, aims to help people build self-esteem and job skills to return to the workplace with sobriety, education and dignity, he said. To that end, Capua created a workforce development program for low-income people. Z’s supports 400 local nonprofits by donating food and supporting fundraising events, partnered with Cuisine for Healing to provide eight cancer patients with 112 weekly meals, and pioneered Fort Worth’s first culinary incubator, advising more than 300 small businesses and startups. Capua has used his experience in the food business to mentor more than 100 small businesses. Samaritan House honored him with the Spirit of Hope Award in 2014.

Janet Z. Capua, Carlo’s mother, co-owns Z’s. “Working with family can be the most wonderful and inspiring thing one can do, and it also can be the most frustrating and terrifying thing one can do,” Carlo said. “You get to know your parent on a business partner level and an adult level. This was my mom’s dream since she was 12 years old,” he said. “She wanted to cook for people and make it a living. No one ever encouraged her to do it until 50 years later. To see my mom finally follow her passion is the most fulfilling feeling I have ever had. She is the first one to help someone in need.”

Janet says that her son is kind and transparent. “What you see is exactly what you get. He is a citizen of the world, and what a gift he is to all,” she said. Z’s is named in honor of Carlo’s grandparents, John and Marie Zito. “Carlo is obviously Johnny Zito’s grandson,” Janet said. “My dad, although in heaven, must be so proud. Carlo’s life mission has only begun. Oh, the places he’ll go.”  

A 2000 business school graduate of Texas Christian University, Capua received his degree in Business Marketing with a minor in the Japanese language. He serves on the boards of trustees for TCU and Texas Health Resources Specialty Hospital and is the current president of the TCU National Alumni Association. After graduation, Carlo taught English for seven years in Fort Worth’s Sister Cities in both Japan and Mexico. His work in Swaziland, South Africa, has helped build the bridge between two cultures and implement the construction of a health center. Capua traveled to 19 countries and speaks fluent Spanish and Japanese. He has completed 17 full marathons, one ultramarathon and an Ironman Triathlon.

“Someone somewhere should do a case study on the transformation of TCU over the last five years,” Capua said. “It is incredible. One of the former directors of admissions said to me that every admissions director hopes to one day have a career here. I think it’s a combination of what Mayor [Betsy] Price is doing in Fort Worth combined with the leadership of TCU,” he said. “It’s just making Fort Worth a great place to live, work and play. And the football program is like the front porch of the university. It’s not everything, but it gets a lot of coverage.”

Capua met his wife Rachael at TCU.

“My wife is the sweetest, most kind person I have ever met,” Capua said. “I am just lucky that she chose me to do life with.”

Capua’s volunteerism includes Downtown Rotary Club of Fort Worth, Steer Fort Worth Education Task Force, Vision Fort Worth Board of Directors, Trinity River Vision Advisory Committee, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Capua coached 250 first-time athletes and helped raise $600,000 for cancer research.

With Fort Worth Cities International, Capua directed an award-winning leadership academy, bringing together 150 international student ambassadors annually for cultural exchange and global problem-solving. He served as ambassador to Italy, Japan, Mexico, Swaziland, Ghana and Northern Ireland. Capua served on the national and local boards of directors from 2007-2011.