— Even as Texas Reds ghostly charred remains stand in Red River, Rik
Gill is opening a brand new Texas Reds — called Texas Reds Fifth — at
Eagle Nest’s historic Laguna Vista Restaurant, the “Goonie,” on
Wednesday, Dec. 15.
Gill — son of owners Bill and Annette Gill and
kitchen manager at that historic restaurant — named his new restaurant
“Texas Reds Fifth.”
Bill Gill, and brother John, opened the first
Texas Reds Thanksgiving 1967 in Red River.
That beloved Red River institution was destroyed
by a blaze — believed to be arson — on Nov. 3.
Texas Reds one, two …
Bill Gill opened — and closed — a second
Texas Reds in 1975 in Angel Fire. Rik and Bill’s sister Martha Stevens
operated a third TRs in Kerrville, Texas, in the mid-’80s. Rik’s
sister Nancigail and husband Troy Miller have owned and operated the
fourth Texas Reds in San Marcos, Texas, for the past 13 years.
Texas Reds Fifth shares the name “Texas Reds”
with the Red River original but Rik will be owner/operator. He’ll lease
the Laguna Vista from owners Bert and Karel Clemens.
“He’s going with my blessing,” Bill Gill
Almost all the Red River Texas Reds staff will work at the new restaurant,
Rik said. “We’ve got a full crew.”
Rik added he’s excited about the new location,
which is itself a historic landmark. According to Bert, the Laguna Vista
Restaurant & Saloon dates back to the late 1890s when the El Monte
Hotel was built from railroad ties stolen from the then-booming gold
mining town of Elizabethtown.
Even after mining had petered out, in the 1930s
the El Monte Hotel was a popular gambling spot for visitors on their way
to the horse-racing track in Raton.
The hotel reportedly has a lady ghost upstairs
who visits the dining room on occasion.
“It’s a neat place,” Rik said. “I
didn’t realize it was that old.” “We have two legends merging in one
landmark,” Bert said. “It’s just a wonderful deal.
“We offered it to Bill the day after the fire.
Then on Monday (Nov. 29) or Tuesday, Rik showed up and said, ‘Is the
offer still good?’ I said, ‘Yes.’
“I think we’ll be surprised how much they do
draw people from Red River, Angel Fire and Eagle Nest. Everyone knows
Texas Reds food and service is outstanding.
“We’re all excited. I think it’ll be a big
economic boon for the town. I would hope that Eagle Nest shops would stay
open later. Eagle Nest’s Main Street (Therma Drive) has cute little
Clemens said he and his crew have already started
moving out all the Laguna Vista decorations while Rik looks for decor more
suitable to Texas Reds’ feel.
Rik said Clemens kitchen crew of two is welcome
to give it a go. Bert said if that doesn’t work out, his staff will
likely stay on and work at the hotel or bar.
The Clemens will maintain owner/operatorship of
the saloon. Rik said at Texas Reds in Red River, liquor sales only
accounted for 20 percent of total restaurant sales.
Texas Reds in Red River?
Before he rebuilds, Bill Gill said he has
tentative plans to open a small temporary Texas Reds at the old Gulf
Station next door west of the original TRs. “We’ll start off like we
did at the beginning with one or two steaks and burgers so there’ll
still be someplace in Red River to get a Texas Reds steak.”
Texas Reds Place debuted in 1967 with one menu
item — the “Great Steakburger,” with French fries and trimmings, for
$1. In February 1968, a $2.95 15-ounce rib steak was added to the menu and
by the following year, the newly renamed Texas Reds Steakhouse was
Gill added, “It’s not for sure yet. I think
the insurance company is going to work with me.”
Gill said he hoped to begin disposing of Texas
Reds debris on Monday, Dec. 6. “We’re hoping to start rebuilding.”
Red River Fire Chief Ron Burnham said at
presstime the fire is still under investigation.