The Big Texan Timeline


The Beginning

March 1960-Founder R. J. Lee opens Big Texan in the old Underwood’s Bar-B-Q location on Route 66. The steakhouse featured a western atmosphere, horseback mounted cowboy greeting guest and a towering 60 foot neon cowboy sign.


Steak Challenge

November 1960-The Big Texan host a 1 hour Steak Challenge; featuring 12 eaters competing for $60 and bragging rights. The winner devours 4-1/2 pounds (72oz) of steak, baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a bread roll. RJ Lee proclaims, “Anyone that can consume the steak challenge winners eating accomplishment-in one hour-gets it for FREE.


First Record Holder

A champion appears. September 1963-445 lbs Professional Wrestler: Klondike Bill eats 2-72oz dinners in one hour. Big Texan manager Boog Wallace warns observing patrons to keep arms, legs and children back away from table.



New Real Estate

June 1964-The Big Texan business and notoriety continues to grow. R.J. Lee expands his offerings by purchasing 7 acre tract of land on the old Dallas highway. The land was several miles east of the city limits and would be used for a weekend beer tavern he named the Outpost. Amarillo liquor laws prohibited sales inside city limits on the weekends. Little did Lee know that this land purchase would save the Big Texan.


Making Moves

September 1969- With the help of his wife Mary Ann and sons Bobby and Danny he begs/borrows and uses his last dollar to move and rebuild his Big Texan on the newly purchased land.



April 1971- The new facility included the nostalgic Route 66 charm, early Panhandle memorabilia items, strolling musicians, gift shop, old west saloon and the famed 72oz challenge. The outside facade featured a rustic western storefront, RJ Lee soon added a 300 seat banquet hall to meet the demand for private events and overflow seating.



Up In Flames

July 1976-a devastating early morning fire destroyed the Big Texan. Lost in the inferno was the main dinning room, gift shop, antiques, artifacts, furniture and fixtures from original Route 66 location. Fortunately the disaster spare the 300 seat banquet hall, that served as a temporary Big Texan until Lee was able to rebuild the main dinning hall.


Third Time’s a Charm

January 1978-RJ Lee rebuilt his new Big Texan in a fashion that can only be described as a Texas masterpiece. It featured two story seating for 480 guest, huge gift shop, arcade and many special elements from all his past Big Texans. He incorporated the 300 banquet hall as the main entrance. 72 oz challengers were now seated on a center stage, so that all patrons could watch the contestants take on the GREAT STEAK OF TEXAS .


Motel Opens

November 1983-RJ Lee opens Big Texan Motel across parking lot from steakhouse. Naturally, it featured “Disney-Style” old west facades, western themed rooms and a Texas shaped swimming pool.



A Legacy Lives On

February 1990-The Big Texan founder R.J. Lee passes away, his sons Bobby and Danny take over operations. Their pledge is 100% commitment to keeping the Big Texan true to its unique Texas mystique, original recipes, quality in food-service, traditions and the addition of more entertainment.


Hollywood Appearence

January 1993-The Big Texan expands its entertainment offerings with the debut of the Big Texan Opry, strolling musicians and dinner-shows. Successful publicity campaigns attract coverage from national/international networks and several Hollywood movies are filmed at the Big Texan.


Man V. Food


2008-The Travel Channel premieres a new show that would become an instant world wide sensation called Man vs Food. Its debut Show features the show host taking on the Big Texans 72oz Steak Challenge. The world wide success of the show established the 72oz Steak challenge as the top eating contest in the world.



Do the Brew

2010-The Lee Brothers and brewmaster Tom Money began brewing and serving craft beer onsite. The beer experience was an instant hit and was recognized by Draft Magazine as one of the worlds Top Ten.



RV Park

After much negotiation, the Big Texan acquires the Amarillo RV Ranch, now known as the Big Texan RV Ranch. The RV park has features an indoor heated pool and free wifi.


The New G.O.A.T.

2016-128 lbs housewife Molly Schuyler garbed national headlines when she consumed 3 -72oz steak dinners in 20 minutes. She was about to start eating on a fourth but the Lee brothers called; calf rope!



The Stars at Night…

The Lee brothers try their hand in the music business. The pair created the Starlight Ranch Music Venue. Big names and bands have preformed at the venue such as Kevin Fowler, Travis Tritt, Aaron Watson & Asleep at the Wheel.


Dark Times

On March 21st, the Coronavirus forced the restaurant into its longest shut-down since 60 years of business.On May 9th, the state of Texas allowed the reopening at 50% occupancy and the crowds packed back and business went back to usual. 



72oz Steaks To-Go

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Big Texan started offering guest the oppurtunity to order take out online.