The Big Texan Timeline – Chapter 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.