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Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Texarkana Still Pleases

4 min read

One of the few benefits of advancing age is that you’ve figured out what you enjoy doing. I’m pretty boring and my pleasures are uncomplicated and few. I like to read and cook, I enjoy visiting estate sales (like my longtime friend and boss Gwen Moritz), and I enjoy taking road trips across Arkansas, particularly if a good restaurant is on the way or at the end of the journey.

If you also enjoy restaurant road trips and if you live in the population centers of central and northwest Arkansas, you might never think of visiting Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Texarkana, Arkansas, and that would be a shame. Cattleman’s, now owned and operated by the third generation of the same family, got some well-deserved attention last month when it was inducted into the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s Food Hall of Fame.

Little has changed at Cattleman’s since 1964, the year it was opened by Roy Oliver at 4018 N. State Line Ave., and that’s why diners like it. Prime rib and steaks are the stars of the menu, though it also offers options like grilled tilapia, broiled red snapper, shrimp and lobster. The sides lean toward potatoes.

Joe Oliver, Roy’s son, said that diners looking for trends can look elsewhere. He described Cattleman’s, the first steakhouse in Texarkana, as a “mid-level, upper level, somewhat casual” steakhouse. “We have survived all the massive amount of chain restaurants that have come to Texarkana,” Joe Oliver said.

The key to that survival has been consistency. “Largely our menu is relatively close to the same it’s been for years and years,” said Joe’s son Cash, who took over the management of Cattleman’s in July. “I do like to run new and interesting specials when I can. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t.”

His best idea was prime rib Tuesdays, when the restaurant features prime rib for $17.95. “That’s worked better than any idea I’ve ever come up with,” said Cash, who started working at the restaurant when he was 12. “That changed what was normally a night of the week where we didn’t do any business to the busiest night of the week most weeks.”

But “as far as our clientele is concerned,” he said, “they don’t really want change. They want what they expect from us.”

Joe Oliver said, “We’ve survived because we’ve been here a long time. We own all our property, and so financially we can survive a lot of stuff where a lot of other locally owned restaurants may not be able to survive.”

Publicity about the induction into the Food Hall of Fame resulted in a little increase in business and a lot of new faces, Joe said.

Cattleman’s has 28 full- and part-time employees, and had about $1 million in revenue in 2019, Cash Oliver said. “That’s been a pretty consistent number for us for about 15 years.”

Other Winners

Other restaurants inducted into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame this year were Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaurant in Fort Smith and Murry’s Restaurant in Hazen.

Scott McGehee, partner in Yellow Rocket Concepts of Little Rock — the restaurant group behind ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co., Big Orange, Local Lime, Lost 40 Brewing and Heights Taco & Tamale — was named Proprietor of the Year, and the International Greek Food Festival in Little Rock was honored as the Food-Themed Event.

In the Gone but Not Forgotten category was Shadden’s BBQ of Marvell (Phillips County), and the People’s Choice winner was the Ohio Club of Hot Springs.

Worth a Visit

We haven’t done restaurant reviews at Arkansas Business for a number of years because other outlets have that covered — the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Arkansas Times and Rock City Eats among them — and we figured that reviews weren’t the best use of our resources.

But contractions in the journalism industry have spread journalists thin, meaning some deserving restaurants can get overlooked, and I also figured that readers might not mind if I share a couple of recommendations, results of the previously mentioned road trips. They are the Skylark Cafe in Leslie (Searcy County) and Whilma’s Filipino Restaurant in Searcy. Both are worth the drive.

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