Ellen Miller-Goins,
staff writer

The Sangre de Cristo Chronicle

Rik Gill opening ‘Texas Reds Fifth’
at ‘Goonie’

EAGLE NEST — 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 said.
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 shops.”

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 booming.

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.


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