ODESSA, Texas (FOX 24) – Many restaurants have been struggling during the pandemic. But being positive and encouraging, that’s what a local restaurant owner is doing. He’s telling us how he’s surviving and staying positive during these difficult times.
It’s a local landmark. The Legendary Barn Door Steakhouse first opened in 1963 and is a staple in Odessa. Also, adding to its appeal is the historic Pecos Depot.
“About 1973, they moved in the Pecos Depot which sits on the northside of the restaurant right now and that was the original train depot in Peco, Texas,” said Roy Gillean, the owner. “Frank Green actually bought the Pecos Depot for $5,000.”
Some say that part of the restaurant is haunted. Gillean believes he’s seen a ghost.
“I started walking back towards the bar area and I felt like there was something there following me. I turned my head around and out of the corner of my eye, I could see this little man walking towards me really fast. I got cold chills and my heart kind of started going crazy and I took off running.”
If you visit, you’ll hear more ghost stories as well as be entertained. On this day, Gillean, was playing the fiddle for customers. It’s not something you will see often, but these days he’s changing things up in order to stay afloat.
“Here this last year, it’s been extremely, extremely tough. Right now, we’re at about anywhere from 35 to 40 percent down in revenue.”
Gillean now has a new general store inside the restaurant as well as a pick up window. “You have to think outside the box,” said Gillean.
Even with the changes, many customers keep coming back for the nostalgia.
“It’s like stepping back in time,” said Susan Blakemore, Midland resident.
Some have been coming here for decades.
“I’ve been coming here probably 30 years,” said Blakemore.
Another Midland resident, Margene Blakemore, said “Growing up there were five kids in our family. It almost never failed that we chose to come to the Barn Door. It was so cool to see steaks being cooked behind the grill.”
“I come here every year for my anniversary still,” said Robin Wood, Midland resident.
Now more than ever, they’re hoping these locally-owned businesses not only survive but thrive.
“We’re losing a lot of history when these restaurants go under,” said Blakemore. “It’s really important to get out and support these businesses.”
The staff is also hoping for that support.
“There’s just a lot of cool things that are going on with it, that you don’t find at a lot of other restaurants,” said Christopher Smith, Barn Door server.
It’s their livehood. “February will be 22 years,” said Kim Moya, Barn Door server.
Longtime employee Kim Moya has formed a closed bond with many of the customers. “I know about their families and they know about mine,” said Moya.
“In our house, we pray every morning before I come to work,” said Gillean.
His faith has gotten him through this pandemic and he’ll keep fighting to keep the Barn Door open for many more generations to come in the Basin.
Gillean also does quite a bit for his employees from giving away scholarships to even helping workers with medical conditions.