Co-owners Bobby and Danny Lee, sons of late Big Texan founder Bob Lee, told the newspaper the Big Texan is bursting at the seams with customers, and something’s gotta give.
“We either need to have one more summer here and be in a new place before the next summer comes around, or we have to put a ton of money into our current location just to get it to last that much longer,” Bobby said. […]
“Two years ago, we started looking at needing to renovate this (current) building, … and we were looking at many millions of dollars to do that,” Danny said. “We’re landlocked with a building that is running at capacity because the popularity of the restaurant just never seems to cease.”
Although the Lees mentioned a massive renovation of the current facility as an option, it’s clear from this video by the newspaper they very likely are going to pack up and move. It won’t be far, though — about a half-mile to the west along Interstate 40.
Bob Lee acquired a piece of land along I-40 decades ago he figured his sons might need in the future. The current Lees also bought several other tracts along that corridor. It’s all a part of a vision to expand the Big Texan’s footprint.
The brothers envision building a 60,000-square-foot Big Texan surrounded by other attractions on parcels they would sell or lease to developers.
“We would like to stick with just (running) the restaurant,” Bobby said.
Everything in the complex would be licensed to carry the Big Texan brands and trademarks, he said.
“We’ve met with builders, architects, over the past three months, and we have to get plans started, drawn and in place within, hopefully, three to four months to where we could be in a new location on March of 2017,” Bobby said. […]
Partnership attractions at the new site could be varied — equestrian activities, an indoor sports courts facility, an indoor shooting range and other ideas have been discussed with interested parties, the Lees said.
The need for change at the Big Texan becomes clear with the sheer number of customers.
- The Big Texan estimates it will serve about 500,000 meals this year. That means, on a busy night, the restaurant is serving more than 2,000 people.
- Amarillo draws more than 300 bus tours a year, and up to half come to the Big Texan.
- The Big Texan serves as much as 80 gallons of its handcrafted beer a day. It’s by far the biggest server of alcoholic beverages in Amarillo and probably the Texas Panhandle.
- The Big Texan’s free limousine service hauls about 60,000 people a year.
- Wait times for a meal are as high as 90 minutes, despite the dining hall holding 500 people.
Regardless of their decisions for the future, the Lees insist the things that made the Big Texan famous — the 72-ounce steak dinner challenge and the Old West decor — will stay.
Although the Big Texan no longer sits on Route 66, it started on Amarillo Boulevard (aka Route 66) in 1960 and often shows its Mother Road roots..
(Image of the Big Texan Steak Ranch by Lee Winder via Flickr)