- Texas Roadhouse sales are surging well above 2019 levels.
- I visited one location in Rochester, New York, and found the chain is homey and comfortable, with good food at relatively low prices.
- I had a great experience, and I see why people are flocking to the restaurant.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
I knew the chain was popular, but I was still surprised to find a completely packed parking lot on a weekday evening.
The window advised customers to call ahead to reserve a seat, which I regretted not doing.
The restaurant had updates hours posted over the door, one of many restaurants working on reduced hours right now.
Upon walking inside, I realized the restaurant was even more crowded than I’d anticipated from the parking lot.
I put our name in at the hostess stand and was told it would be about a 10 minute wait.
I didn’t mind the wait. I used the time to take in the ambiance of Texas Roadhouse, which was unlike any restaurant I’d ever been to before. The restaurant was packed and I saw maybe two or three people wearing masks, while servers did not. I could almost forget we were in a pandemic.
The walls were decorated with jerseys and uniforms from the local high school sports teams right above the hostess station.
An extremely large moose head was mounted alongside the uniforms. I don’t know what mooses have to do with Texas, but it did add to a homey, country theme.
Other walls are adorned with neon beer brand signs, including Budweiser and Blue Moon.
Nearly all the walls in the massive restaurant were decked out in decor, like these caricatures of some classic country artists.
I also got some time to check out the butcher station with hand-cut steaks, which is one of the signature features of the chain.
Above the steaks are the chain’s iconic rolls, staying warm under a heating lamp.
Another neon sign gets at the heart of Texas Roadhouse: beer and beef.
Underneath the sign, waitstaff ran in and out of the kitchen, ferrying rolls to the full restaurant.
There were posting all over advertising that the restaurant is hiring, likely a symptom of the labor shortage impacting just about every restaurant right now.
Even the waitstaff wore shirts saying “I
Mary Meisenzahl/InsiderAfter a wait of probably closer to 25 minutes, I followed a waitress, holding the coveted rolls, to my table.
A menu advertised Texas Roadhouse’s drinks, including margaritas that I’d heard I had to try.
The restaurant is even bigger than it looks from the outside, and it seemed nearly full as I walked to my table.
As I walked through the rest of the interior, the decor was consistent throughout.
There were probably at least a dozen animal heads mounted on the walls, included a classic Americana jackalope.
The decor is kitchsy, in a way that I found unexpectedly appealing.
Cactuses perched on booths and counters were reminders that the restaurant was supposed to be Southwest-themed.
I sat down and opened up a massive menu, which was overwhelming with all its choices.
Back at the table, the waitress recommended this massive blue margarita, called Kenny’s Cooler after Kenny Chesney.
For $7.25, it was huge and could easily be shared by at least two people.
Because we told the waitress we’d never been to Texas Roadhouse before, she brought us a sampler of some dishes to test out: green beans in bacon grease, loaded mashed potatoes with cheese and bacon, pulled pork, and chili topped with cheese and red onions.
We ordered the combo appetizer to try out a few different dishes, including boneless wings, potato skins, and rattlesnake bites, which were fried jalapenos and cheese.
We went through the appetizers all too quickly, and all agreed that the dipping sauces and spreads were a highlight of the experience. From the horseradish sauce that came with the rattlesnake bites to the cinnamon butter for the rolls, they went perfectly on the dishes they came with.
Our entrees came, and the sheer amount of food was staggering. I had no idea how we’d even start to finish it.
I got the country-fried chicken, covered in a creamy white gravy. It was delicious, though I could hardly make a dent in it after the appetizers and rolls.
The entree also came with two sides, which themselves were huge. I chose the mashed potatoes and green beans, which I knew I’d like from the sampler.
I’m not a big fan of steak, so I wanted to bring along someone who could really evaluate Texas Roadhouse’s signature steaks. My fiance, Joe, ordered this giant steak, with perfect grill marks.
The steak was extra rare and smelled amazing.
It was served smothered in mushrooms and onions, with a loaded baked potato as one of the sides.
My sister was also game to test out the food, so she got a burger and fries.
The Smokehouse Burger, one-half pound of beef with mushrooms, onions, barbecue sauce, and mounds of gooey cheese, was delicious, according to her.
The giant burger and fries were a huge amount of food for the $11.49 price tag.
The 16-ounce ribeye, plus two sides, was $25.
My fried chicken was just $12.99, an even better deal considering I ate it for three meals.
We finally gave up and admitted there was no possible way we’d finish this food in one sitting.
As we packed our food into takeout containers, our server even offered to bring us more rolls, with little covers so we could take the butter, too.
I’m not the only one who had a good experience at Texas Roadhouse. Sales are exploding at the chain.
Same-store sales are up over 80% over 2020, which was of course low because of COVID-19, and they’re up 21.3% over 2019 levels. Visits are up too, according to Placer.ai, indicating more customers are visiting the chain and they’re spending more money.
The chain’s sales are booming, and I can see why. Good food in huge quantities, plus a sense of normality by returning to a well-known restaurant, are more appealing than ever in 2021.
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