Biz birthday: An iconic Kemah eatery is soon to celebrate the big 4-0. T-Bone Tom’s, 707 state Highway 146, will mark the milestone Feb. 1 with cake and several specials.

Barry and Melissa Terrell own the eatery, which is famous for chicken-fried steak and such fare as Armadillo Eggs, (jalapeños stuffed with barbecue brisket and deep fried).

T-Bone Tom’s was established in 1974. The late Tom Fitzmorris (T-Bone Tom) inherited the meat market from his father. Initially, the market sold cut meat, groceries and barbecue sandwiches. Through the years, it evolved into a bona fide restaurant.

For loyal patrons, the eatery has always represented the “Old Kemah,” before tourism and rows of chain restaurants came along.

Terrell was working in one of those chain restaurants when the opportunity to acquire T-Bone’s arrived in 1999. He made a down payment and financed the purchase. When Terrell became owner, most of the staff wanted to make changes or put a new twist on recipes. But Terrell was determined to preserve the recipes and others things made the eatery popular.

Although he and family have added some menu items, the legendary chicken-fried steak and other original foods are prepared the exact same way they were in 1974, Terrell said.

Terrell and family have made their mark on the restaurant, however, adding Tom’s Backyard, an outside venue offering live entertainment that seats 300 people and boasts one of the largest palapas in Texas.

Although he worked in the restaurant industry for years before buying T-Bone Tom’s, becoming an owner brought a new set of challenges, such as taxes and bills and the rising cost of food. If the eatery has to raise the price of an item to cover costs, it lowers a price somewhere else on the menu, Terrell said.

In 2009, T-Bone Tom’s got national attention when it was featured in the Food Network’s TV show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of owning T-Bone Tom’s is the low turnover rate among employees, which is rare in the restaurant industry, Terrell said.

“It’s a good workplace,” he said.

T-Bone Tom’s will celebrate its 40-year anniversary with 40 cent wings and 40 cent drafts, among other specials, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 1. Also that day, blues, rockabilly and rock band The 4-Barrel Ramblers will perform. For information, call 281-334-2133.

Butcher buzz: As an old meat market in Kemah marks a major milestone, another is born in Santa Fe. David Younie plans to soon open Dakota Dave’s Meat, 12981 state Highway 6.

The establishment will offer choice steaks, ground round, ground chuck, and ready-to-grill and ready-to-bake items, including stuffed pork chops, stuffed chicken breasts and shish kebabs. Younie, a butcher for 30 years, also plans to offer his own line of smoked sausage.

Younie and his wife, Barbara, moved from Omaha, Neb., to Santa Fe in 2008. Barbara Younie’s grandmother owned property in Santa Fe for years. And Barbara Younie wanted that property, of which she had fond memories, to stay in the family. Santa Fe reminded Younie a little of South Dakota, where he grew up.

In 2008, he took a job as a butcher at Big Chief Foods, an independent grocer acquired in 2011 by Seabrook-based Arlan’s Market. He worked at Arlan’s before deciding to open his own business.

Younie doesn’t have an exact opening date, but hopes to debut Dakota Dave’s Meat in the next two weeks or so. Stay tuned.

Looking up: The island’s condominium market continues to gain momentum and at least two properties are reporting record sales for 2013. The 121-unit Emerald, 500 Seawall Blvd., and the 116-unit Diamond Beach, the pale pink condominiums on the western edge of the island’s seawall, together sold 65 units last year. Emerald, sold 35, with 28 units still available. Diamond Beach sold 30, with 12 remaining.

The market is rebounding. But aggressive marketing also has helped the properties, which a few years ago were repossessed by lender IBC Bank. IBC in April 2012 hired Strategyst, which launched a campaign to re-brand the developments and lower prices.

“By carefully positioning Galveston as the place to live and vacation, we were able to establish Emerald and Diamond Beach as the best values in high-rise luxury living on the island,” Strategyst President Arnie Seitel said. “The end result was we were able to attract the attention of buyers who purchased more than 60 homes, representing roughly $23 million in revenue.”

IBC is happy with the results.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress made to date and look forward to continued success,” Jennifer Hoff, IBC senior vice president, said.


(1) comment

Rich Gray

Oh my goodness! The next time we cruise out of Galveston, we WILL take the side trip to enjoy T-Bone Tom's! Can't wait!

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