by Victor Lopez
ODESSA- A tradition started in Odessa, 50 years ago. You may know The Barn Door exists. You may have eaten there a time or two but there's a history behind it that many may not know about.
NewsWest 9 took a little history lesson with the owner and found out there's more to the legendary steak house than meets the eye.
"We are very country and some people say we are the most elegant barn in Texas," Roy Gillean, said.
Gillian is the current owner of The Barn Door Steakhouse. In the last 11 years, he's tried hard to keep true to the traditions and expectations of customers, over the last half a century.
"In about 1963, The Barn Door opened. Jay Beeson was one of the original owners. Shortly after that, Frank Green was the proprietor," Gillean said.
Let's fast forward about nine years.
"Frank ended up buying the Pecos Depot around 1972. They moved it along side the Barn Door and that got opened up in 1973," Gillean said.
Black and white pictures of the original depot hang on the walls of, what is now, The Pecos Depot or the bar inside the Barn Door. You may ask how does one go about buying a train depot?
Gillean explained for us.
"Frank was in the know. He was one of the major guys in the community at the time. He was always in the know about everything. He went there, made a deal with them and the brought the Pecos depot back," Gillean said.
Since it first opened in 1963, the Barn Door has seen a lot of changes, including staff and ownership. But there is one thing that hasn't changed. And it's something that customers expect when they walk in the door.
"Bread and cheese!" one person said.
"Obviously the bread and cheese," Gillean commented.
Okay, two things! The Barn Door's reputation precedes them.
According to Gillean, "I'm thinking we're probably the largest, home grown or family owned restaurant, probably between Fort Worth and El Paso. I'll be on a plane, going somewhere, they'll say "Oh my god! The Barn Door! I'll introduce myself and they'll tell me they just love the Barn Door. 'Do you still have that big block of cheese and that bread that you make?' I hear that all the time."
Restaurant manager Joe Luis Acosta has worked for the Barn Door for close to 15 years. He definitely knows what's good and poplar.
"Bread, cheese and steaks will be the top three things," Acosta says.
The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, for lunch and for dinner Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. I put pencil to paper and found that on an average week, the staff serves almost 6,000 customers. On holidays and special event nights, like prom or Mother's Day, that number can jump to over six thousand. They're serving up the things that keep folks coming back.
Colman Floyd of Midland says, "It's just a great place, great atmosphere. Me and my buddies always come over here. In fact, we just drove up from Midland, a 20 mile drive. I just love the food. It's a great time."
Tommy Garrison of Midland agrees, "On special days, like today, when we finish a performance, we come over here and eat. The shrimp on the grill, how tasty!"
But the staff at the Barn Door want their customers to enjoy more than just the food. They want their guests to have an experience like no other.
"From the gesture at the table with bread and cheese to the atmosphere of the restaurant and how you can't recreate the history that is here. People really enjoy that. What we pride ourselves on is, this is a place you would bring grandma for her birthday or things like that," Gillean said.
The word family means a lot at the barn door. From the families that come in to dine, to the families that work here. For example, the General Manager's father is the head grill cook. One of the hostesses is the daughter of one of the banquet workers. Roy Gillean's family helps out now and then, too.
The current oil boom has definitely helped their business but it's been hard to compete with the oil companies to hire employees.
To go with the tried and true favorites, the barn door is trying some new things.
"Everybody is asking for seafood. We have the best customers in the world. They are amazing and always open for different things," Gillean said.
"Since we are called the Barn Door Steakhouse and we are very country and some people say we are the most elegant barn in Texas, we play music here, every Thursday and Friday night. We just all have a blast," Gillean said.
Steeped in history and tradition, keeping customers and employees happy for 50 years, that's what the Barn Door is all about.