More than a MealNov 01, 2021 ● By Syndi Ellis
At first glance, the beautiful Victorian home at 7206 Main St. in Frisco appears to be just another of the Rail District’s many historic homes. But longtime Frisconians know that the gorgeous house is a top destination for foodies, families, first dates and everything in between.
Since Randy Burks bought the home in 1995 and transformed it into Randy’s Steakhouse, it has become a Frisco tradition and one of the longest-operating restaurants in the city.
“We’re the only restaurant that’s still running from the day I opened,” Burks, owner and chef of Randy’s Steakhouse, said. “Nobody has been here longer and is still operating.”
He credits the restaurant’s staying power to the welcoming
atmosphere cultivated by his “very personable” staff. Burks is also there at least five nights a week, cooking, managing and greeting customers. “We want to make sure everyone has a good dining experience.”
He credits Dale Wamstad, of Del Frisco’s Steakhouse fame, for teaching him about the restaurant business. In 1986, Burks was hired as a server at Del Frisco’s but soon learned he was most passionate about the food. Wamstad trained Burks in all aspects of kitchen management, as well as “how to prepare the finest steaks and seafood,” said Burks, who was promoted to sous chef, head chef and kitchen manager before deciding to venture out on his own.
In 1993, he opened Randy’s Country Kitchen (in the space
currently inhabited by Didi’s Downtown in Frisco), which served southern-style comfort food. Although he enjoyed the experience, he missed working with fine steaks and wines. So, Burks closed that eatery and purchased what is known as the T.J. Campbell house on Main Street, built in 1869, and opened Randy’s Steakhouse.
“The secret is simple: I just really enjoy what I do,” he said. “There’s a lot of aspects to my job — I write recipes, connect with people, host wine dinners on the last Thursday of the month and more. I love the people the most. The customers are so great, and it’s always so encouraging receiving compliments on the food. A lot of my friends now were customers first.”
Randy’s Steakhouse has also become a go-to place locally for celebrations. Staffers give away bottles of private-label wine to diners celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones, adding to the restaurant’s festive atmosphere. “People celebrate everything here,” he said, “from birthdays and anniversaries to buying a new house or starting a business.”
Of course, the primary reason why many guests return – besides the restaurant’s warm ambiance – is the food. Its three-course, price-fixed menu is popular. The regular menu boasts an extensive selection of appetizers, soups and salads, beef, chicken and seafood entrees and specialty side dishes. Some 150 wines from around the world are also served.
Burks said he has a difficult time choosing a favorite dish because he enjoys everything on the menu. When pressed, he recommends the 28-ounce bone-in ribeye. “The bone is so big it doesn’t fit on the plate,” he explained. “They also contain marvelous fat, giving them more flavor that is amazing.”
Change doesn’t come frequently to the Randy’s Steakhouse menu. “Dale taught me to keep the recipes simple and delicious, and that’s what we try to do,” Burks explained. However, new items are sometimes added to the menu, usually birthed by ideas created while developing the restaurant’s monthly wine dinners. “We get creative and things that are really popular eventually get added to the permanent menu.”
The menu did change during spring 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When indoor dining stopped, Randy’s Steakhouse began offering curbside pickup of its regular menu items. After several days of seeing few profits, Burks pivoted back to an old favorite and started serving food from his previous Randy’s Country Kitchen concept.
“We changed the menu to chicken fried steak, burgers, meatloaf and other comfort food items,” he said. “Our business did extremely well during COVID, and we kept all of our kitchen staff, managers and a few servers.”
He also took advantage of the dining room closure by completely remodeling the kitchen, which included installing new equipment and flooring. “We’ve been in business for over 25 years and we never renovated the kitchen,” he explained. “Things were old and tired and the floor was starting to come undone. We spent $100,000 on a new kitchen, including a new broiler, fridges, flooring and pretty much everything else. I took advantage of the slow period to get stuff done.”
Now that Randy’s Steakhouse is back to operating at full capacity, Burks plans to keep doing what he loves — showing up every day to serve customers. “I’m probably going to go at least 10 more years although, hopefully, I’ll retire one of these days,” he said. “I still enjoy what I do. I have no plans to open any other locations because I’m so happy with this one that provides well for my family.”
When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his daughter, Randie, and his wife, Susie, who formerly was a bartender at the steakhouse. He is also passionate about helping the community and recently hosted a wine dinner fundraising event for Hillcrest Animal Rescue in Farmersville, which raised $4,000 for senior-age dogs. The steakhouse also participates in DFW Restaurant Week to raise money for the North Texas Food Bank.
Spending time with family and helping the community are in line with Burks’ business philosophy, which is all about people. “I just think you have to take care of your customers, especially right now during these trying times. We are short-staffed like everyone else, but we are working as hard as you can to build relationships because people are the most important thing.”
Sydni Ellis is a freelance writer who loves shopping, getting lost in a good thriller and taking way too many pictures of her two wild toddlers when she should be at her computer.
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