Ride ’Em, Cowboy

Coconut Creek with a Western twang. That’s the best way to describe the new Texas Roadhouse that opened in November on Lyons Road. But before you say, “Oh, just another steak house,” think again. You might be pleasantly surprised to know that starting early in the morning, well before Roadhouse opens its doors at 3 p.m. to welcome the dinner crowd, there’s already Texas-sized preparation going on in the kitchen.

When we got a tour of the back of the house—the place patrons never see—two butchers in a 34-degree cooler were hand-cutting steaks, and bakers were making yeast rolls, hamburger buns and salad croutons from scratch.

Greg Vesey, store marketer for Texas Roadhouse in Coconut Creek, says fresh bread is baked every five minutes, which is why you smell that luscious aroma when you walk in the door. The restaurant even makes its own whipped butter, including the popular cinnamon-honey blend, from a secret recipe—although many home cooks have tried to make copycat versions, if a Google search is any indication.

Steaks, of course, are the mainstay of the menu, and the restaurant puts the hand-cut meats in the spotlight. Approach the hostess station to ask for a table, and you’re whisked over to a case to pick your cut. Do you want ribeye, sirloin, a bone-in ribeye, filet mignon?

“People love picking their steaks; it’s part of our special dining experience,” Vesey says.

Another signature? Barrels of free, in-the-shell peanuts in the waiting area, and buckets of them on the tables, with a carefree invitation to toss the shells on the floor. It adds a percussive underfoot crunch for when servers briefly stop delivering their orders to line-dance in the aisles. Guests are welcome to get up and join in.

The Kentucky-based chain has 450 locations in the United States, with four in Dubai and Kuwait. Coconut Creek is the sixth Texas Roadhouse in South Florida, joining Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Miramar, Miami and Florida City. Each restaurant tries to incorporate a dose of local flavor.

Randy Besser, managing partner of the Coconut Creek location, describes his restaurant as “very community-driven.” In the waiting area, the walls are lined with local memorabilia: Monarch and Coconut Creek high school football jerseys, and Coconut Creek Lady Cougars sports gear. An actual door of a Coconut Creek police car hangs like a trophy. Police uniforms, hats and badges also are on display.

A wall mural of a beach scene in the dining room prominently features monarch butterflies, a tribute to “the Butterfly Capital of the World.” Vesey explains that the paintings in each restaurant are designed to reflect the local community, and are all personally approved by Texas Roadhouse founder and chairman Kent Taylor.

When Taylor opened his first restaurant in 1993, in Clarksville, Indiana, his goal was to have a family restaurant, Vesey says.

“Creek is the right fit for our concept,” he adds.

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