Texas Roadhouse’s local origins

The Lone Star State can’t claim this one.

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The original Texas Roadhouse opened in Indiana in 1993.

Photo by Clarksville, IN Texas Roadhouse

It’s hard to imagine anything local about Texas Roadhouse with “Texas” in the name, but the steakhouse chain with 600+ locations across the US (and nine around the world) actually got its start four miles from downtown LOU.

In February 1993, founder and Louisville-native Kent Taylor opened the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, IN inside Green Tree Mallwhich back then had a stage for concerts where the bar is today. He wanted to create an affordable Texas-style restaurant offering hand-cut steaks, ribs, scratch-made sides, and of course, ice cold beer.

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The cocktail napkin Kent Taylor used to sketch the design of the first Texas Roadhouse.

Image provided by Texas Roadhouse

After being turned down nearly 80 times trying to raise money for his concept, three Elizabethtown, KY doctors provided $300,000 in capital funding. By the end of 1999, there were 67 locations in operation.

Bonus: One of those 80 let downs was by basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Kent tried to sell him the idea after chasing him through an airport.

Today, Texas Roadhouse’s headquarters are in Louisville — you’ve probably seen the logo on its office building driving along I-264 near Breckenridge Lane. It also opened a couple other concepts like the sports bar-style restaurant Bubba’s 33 (also in Clarksville) and fast-casual chicken and burger chain Jaggers, which has 12 stores in the US.

Aside from originating in the Greater Louisville area, Texas Roadhouse localizes its restaurants much like how Trader Joe’s localizes its stores — with murals. Each Roadhouse location has unique murals among the Southwest decor to reflect the local community. See: The Outer Loop location has a painting of a Kentucky Wildcat and Louisville Cardinal playing cards together in the bar area.

Texas-sized facts

  • Its restaurants average ~5,000 guests per week
  • Serves 300,000 meals each day
  • Each Texas Roadhouse is 6,7000-7,500 sqft and seats 291 diners
  • Steak accounts for 44% of its menu
  • The butchers cut around $1 million of meat a year per store
  • Each restaurant has a Willie Nelson shrineaka Willi’s Corner. Founder Kent Taylor met the country music legend at a Farm Aid benefit concert and their friendship grew from there. In 2022, Nelson signed an official partner agreement with the steakhouse.
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