The Origin Of Texas Roadhouse Is Not At All What We Thought

In 1993, the first Texas Roadhouse popped up in Clarksville, Indiana. As Beyonce might say, "This ain't Texas." Entrepreneur Kent Taylor made a strategic branding move when he established a restaurant that welcomed families and served steaks, ribs, and homemade sides at affordable prices. After securing investment, Taylor set to work creating an environment different from other contemporary restaurants. With wooden details and rustic decorations, the place felt like Texas. Country music played in the background as meals were gulped down and line dancing took place. Even the restaurant's mascot, an armadillo, hails from the Lone Star State. 

Taylor was captivated by Texan culture during his travels. He was drawn to the concept of big, friendly, roadside service — and of course, hearty, good-tasting meals. Plus, beef and Texas are both words that have infiltrated steakhouse lingo. Before he opened the first location, Taylor got a P.O. box in Texas to help build trust in his concept by using the address on marketing collateral. For Taylor, naming the business Texas Roadhouse was key in cementing an image long before customers walked through the swinging doors. With experiences at Bennigans and KFC and having opened Buckhead Mountain Grill before outlining plans for the Roadhouse, Taylor had an idea of what worked and what didn't.  He wasn't wrong: With hundreds of locations in the United States and around the world, Texas Roadhouse has captured the imagination of those craving Texan cuisine.

A taste of Texas, regardless of location

The descriptive name may have helped Texas Roadhouse find favor among hungry guests, but Kent Taylor backed up the name with substance. At the Roadhouse, Taylor made sure customers were well-attended by assigning waitstaff only three tables instead of the typical four or more. His decision to offer free peanuts and rolls might've raised eyebrows from other restauranteurs,  but he was committed and his ideas paid off. "He didn't like rules. He didn't like being told what to do," Texas Roadhouse's Travis Doster told FSR Magazine.

Taylor's unorthodox leadership — banning coats and ties at the company's office, encouraging line-dancing among employees, and shying away from those with advanced degrees — helped cement the Roadhouse's reputation. Each restaurant has unique murals to reflect the local area and shrines dedicated to Willie Nelson can be found in each location. Whether you're visiting a Texas Roadhouse in Indiana or Texas, a dependable menu of loaded baked potatoes, freshly baked bread with honey cinnamon butter, rattlesnake bites, and steak can be found. Their frozen margaritas have achieved a kind of legendary status. Plus, with ample portion sizes and plates that may require some maneuvering to fit onto tables, it's the rare visitor who leaves hungry; the more likely scenario is of diners bringing a taste of Texas home with them after the meal is finished, no matter which state they are in.