Legendary Food, Legendary Service
Texas Roadhouse is an American chain restaurant that specializes in steaks and promotes a Western theme. Texas Roadhouse Corporation is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. The chain operates about 450 (July 2015) locations in 49 U.S. states, and in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Philippines and Taiwan. It is known for its free buckets of peanuts at each table along with free yeast rolls.
Texas Roadhouse was founded on February 17, 1993, at the Green Tree Mall in Clarksville, Indiana; across the Ohio River from Louisville. Founder W. Kent Taylor lived in Colorado and worked at nightclubs and restaurants there, having aspirations to attend a culinary school. In 1990, Taylor returned to his hometown of Louisville. He began work as a Kentucky Fried Chicken manager, and had dreams to open a Colorado-themed restaurant. Former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. helped Taylor fulfill his dream by backing him with $80,000. In 1991, Taylor opened Buckhead Hickory Grill, the chain that would eventually become Buckhead Mountain Grill. Taylor was his own executive chef. Brown invested more money and wanted to open a second store in Clarksville, but complications in the partnership caused it to fall apart. Taylor through Scott Canfield found new partners and was forced to use a new name, Texas Roadhouse. A year later, he sold his shares in Buckhead Mountain Grill.
The second Texas Roadhouse opened in Gainesville, Florida. The chain expanded rapidly in the late 1990s, and by the end of 1999, 67 restaurants had been opened. In 2004, the chain began public offerings. In September 2011, Texas Roadhouse started their international expansion, with the first international location in The Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE.
Texas Roadhouse's slogan is "Legendary Food, Legendary Service". Their mascot is an armadillo named Andy.
The company's restaurants offer entertainment in the form of line dancing. The waiters and waitresses learn line dances to popular country songs and perform line dances throughout the night. The employees also participate in intercompany competitions: bartenders compete in "The Real Bar" competition, and meat cutters in the annual "Meat Hero Competition".
The Roadhouse Corporation supports the homebuilding programs Habitat for Humanity International and Homes For Our Troops. The company also sponsors a road cycling team of about 20 cyclists, along with Willie Nelson tours.
Originally each restaurant had a table called "Willie's Corner", with pictures and memorabilia of Willie Nelson. In 2002, Nelson signed a deal to become the official spokesman of Texas Roadhouse. Since then, Nelson has heavily promoted the chain, including a special on Food Network. Following Nelson's legal issues in recent years, the firm and Willie Nelson no longer have a business relationship, and many restaurants no longer have a Willie's Corner.
Texas Roadhouse serves American cuisine, including steak, ribs, chicken, and seafood. Their main suppliers are JBS Swift and Smithfield Foods. The chain boasts several cooking championships across the country with their ribs and steaks. The menu follows a theme of mushrooms, cheese, and barbecue. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, with the exception of children's menu items Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, applesauce, and hot dogs. This includes the salads and dressings (the only dressing not made from scratch is low-fat ranch), sauces and side dishes. Their steaks are hand-cut (with the exception of the T-bone steaks, which are cut off-site and vacuum-packed) and are never frozen.
The Texas Roadhouse store in Chantilly, Virginia, outraged local police over its conduct following a shooting at the Sully District station of the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD). After a gunman had opened fire at the station, eventually killing two officers, police cordoned off the area, forcing some local businesses to close for a few hours. In the following days, some businesses closed again during the funeral processions for the two officers due to the large number of people lining the route. The manager of the local Texas Roadhouse claimed losses of $9000 due to these closures and requested that this lost revenue offset the $5000 of fines the store had accrued due to alarm malfunctions. The claim was denied and prompted the FCPD to contact the firm's corporate headquarters in Louisville. Chain officials apologized weeks later and made a donation to a trust fund for the officers' families. They also said the manager had been severely disciplined. The story of this controversy has been circulating as a viral email beginning around 2006, and verified by urban legend website snopes.com. Also, a crisis management firm has used this controversy as an example of poor crisis management and public relations.