Texas Roadhouse’s addition meant to cut down on the wait

The Texas Roadhouse wait staff will dance while you dine.

That Texas Roadhouse amazes me. I’m almost certain that there has not been a moment since the restaurant opened in 2005 that it hasn’t had a line of people waiting for a table.

It might be the steak. It might be the line dancing wait staff. It might be the permission to throw peanut shells on the floor.

It’s probably the yeast rolls they serve before the meal.

Whatever it is, the Texas Roadhouse at 6707 W. Kellogg took steps last weekend to cut back on that wait, though a manager admits that the plan has failed so far.

The restaurant just opened a new addition on its east side that provides for about 50 more seats. The addition was meant to help with wait times, which on weekends can top out at two hours, and to give the restaurant the possibility of having a private banquet room. But over the weekend, the waits were no shorter, and the addition was filled up. See? Amazing.

For now, the addition is open Thursday through Sunday evenings. Managers say they’ll likely open it nightly starting in a few weeks.

As for those waits, customers are advised to employ the restaurant’s call ahead seating. Those who want to eat at 7 p.m., for example, can call 316- 943-8722  and put their name on the list at 5:30 on a weekend night. By the time they arrive, the wait should be minutes rather than hours.

Question of the week: How long will you wait for a table?

Some restaurants never seem to NOT have a long line of people waiting for a table, no matter how long they’re open in Wichita. (Texas Roadhouse and Outback Steakhouse come to mind.)

The situation can be frustrating, especially for people headed out with big groups, right after new a restaurants opens, or on busy Friday and Saturday nights.

The question of the week: How long are you willing to wait for a table at a restaurant? What makes you decide whether to take a pager or try the next place? And what strategies do you have for avoiding waits?

Answer in the comments section below.

Texas Roadhouse employs a top chopper, plans addition

Lorenzo Martinez, a champion chopper at Texas Roadhouse

Maybe, just maybe, those neverending, never shortening lines at Wichita’s Texas Roadhouse, 6707 W. Kellogg, are all attributed to the restaurant’s exceptional butchering.

Lorenzo Martinez, a seven-year employee of Wichita’s Texas Roadhouse, has qualified for the semi-finals of the Texas Roadhouse National Meat Cutting Challenge, scheduled for March 21 in Salt Lake City. Eight of the 25 semifinalists will advance to the finals, which will be in April in Florida, and will compete for a grand prize of $20,000 and the title “Meat Cutter of the Year.”

Martinez, a single dad of three kids, is one of the most important people working at the popular Wichita Texas Roadhouse, said kitchen manager Kyle Hauber. A wizard with a knife, he cuts between 300 and 700 pounds of meat on a typical day. He hand cuts every steak served at the restaurant and spends seven or eight hours a day working in the 35-degree walk-in cooler.

“He makes us really successful,” Hauber said.

During the contest, the meat cutters compete in a timed “cut-off,” where they must carve a 30 to 40 pound piece of beef consisting of two sirloins, one filet and one ribeye. They’re judged on quality, yield and speed. More than 200 choppers started in the competition. This is the furthest a Wichita employee ever has made it in the competition, Hauber said.

While I had Hauber on the phone, I quizzed him about the never-fading popularity of his restaurant, which consistently has long lines even though it opened more than seven years ago. I asked him a question he gets a lot: Will Texas Roadhouse add an east-side restaurant?

The answer is no, he said. The local franchisee likes the mystique of having just one of the popular restaurants in Wichita. Instead, of adding a second location, the restaurant keeps adding space on to accomodate crowds. An addition that allowed for about 50 more seats went up in the summer of 2010, and this summer, the restaurant will add even more space onto the east side of the building, allowing for another 50 seats.

I’ll let you know how Martinez does in March.

Well, that’s nice of ‘em

texas*UPDATE: A helpful commenter points out that Ted’s will refund unused gift cards. I called and confirmed that it’s true. Just call 404-266-1344.

Ted’s Montana Grill is gone, but thanks to a similarly meaty restaurant in town, people who are stuck with Ted’s gift certificates can still get fed.

Texas Roadhouse, the line-dancin’, steak cookin’ restaurant at 6707 W. Kellogg, will exchange any unexpired Ted’s gift card for a free $12 Texas Roadhouse entree certificate. The offer is limited to one gift card exchanged per table.

Exchanges can be made through Dec. 31 at stores in Wichita, Kansas City and Omaha.