Longhorn Ranch Restaurant has longtime patrons (w/video)

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:19 p.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2014 at 10:39 p.m.

A salad with fresh avocado and tomato slices waits to be delivered to a diner at the Longhorn Ranch Restaurant in Cuero.

A salad with fresh avocado and tomato slices waits to be delivered to a diner at the Longhorn Ranch Restaurant in Cuero.   Kat Duncan for The Victoria Advocate

CUERO - Longhorn Ranch Restaurant has more than a family atmosphere - it literally has family.

Marvin Fox, 78, and his wife Mary, 79, opened the restaurant in 1985, bringing their children in to help get it going.

"We built it from the ground up," said Marvin Fox.

The couple's three daughters have worked hard to keep the restaurant running and its loyal customers happy.

The trio of sisters - Stacey Fox-Ressman, 42; Shirley Saenz, 57; and Tina Orosco, 54 - now run the restaurant five days a week. Marvin and Mary Fox still come in every day to help cash out customers and babysit the grandchildren.

Saenz greets customers, puts in orders, runs the register and brings food to the tables.

Fox-Ressman and Orosco tackle the orders in the kitchen, where everything is made from scratch and made to order.

"I use our grandmother's recipes from 50 years ago," Orosco said. "I learned everything from my mom and grandmother."

Before Longhorn Ranch Restaurant opened, their grandmother owned a restaurant named El Patio. It's a place that a few of the customers remember, but it's one of the reasons they keep coming back.

Loyal customers Kay and Lee Tillman have dined at the Longhorn Ranch Restaurant for about 25 years.

"It's the only place that has good home cooking," said Lee Tillman, 82, of Cuero. "We've watched them raise their entire family here."

Kay Tillman, 72, said her favorite item on the menu is the hamburger steak, which comes smothered with a brown gravy and has sauteed onions and a choice of homemade sides.

Other popular items include the chicken-fried steak and the chicken enchiladas, which she said are not on the menu.

Kay Tillman said she remembers the enchiladas from El Patio, adding that Orosco makes them exactly how her grandmother used to.

In the kitchen, Orosco and Fox-Ressman prep everything before opening for the day from the chicken-fried steak to the house-cut French fries. There are daily lunch and dinner specials.

Travelers are reminded to grab some cash before going to the restaurant; the restaurant does not accept credit cards.

Saenz said their grandmother never accepted credit cards, so they've stuck with the practice.

"We've never had a problem," she said, adding they recently set up an ATM to accommodate the Eagle Ford Shale activity.

It's not uncommon for customers to walk around the room, looking at the shelves and display cases that show off Mary Fox's collection.

"If it has a price tag, it's for sale," Fox-Ressman said.

Customers have been known to bring items in to add to the collection, too, she said.

It started years ago when her mom ran out of room at home to show off her collectibles, Fox-Ressman said. There are salt and pepper shakers, glass and crystal hand bells and countless Santa Claus figurines that stay on display.

"We used to take them down, but it became too much of a task. We finally just left them up," Saenz said.

She said she's happy to know the family has worked so hard to make the restaurant a success.

"We'll be here as long as it takes," Saenz said.



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