A restaurant owner-chef has to wear many hats—king of the kitchen is his most revered role—but he also has to be a great businessman. A trend predictor. A mind reader who senses what his clients want even before they realize they are craving comfort food or kale. An interior decorator who packages his restaurant with the right look.
Randy Burks, owner and head chef of Randy’s Steakhouse, seems to do all of this with a natural grace. His mind must run on multiple tracks. He is constantly updating his extensive wine list. He runs the front of the house as well as the kitchen to ensure that his guests are enjoying their dining experience. He is like a quarterback who knows the strengths of his team and makes sure they work together as one.
“There have been two people who have influenced me the most in my passion for cooking,” explains Burks. “First, my mother. Growing up we moved all over the country. Every state we moved to my mother learned that region’s recipes. She was a wonderful cook and that is where I began my love affair with food. Dale Wamstad, founder of Del Frisco’s, III Forks, and Silver Fox Steakhouse, was the biggest influence on my cooking professionally.”
Burks and his dad went in as partners on what now may be one of the most popular restaurants in Frisco. Randy’s Steakhouse is the longest running, family-owned and operated restaurant in the booming city.
“When we opened the restaurant in 1993, Frisco was a small town. We opened serving chicken fried steak and meatloaf, which seemed perfect for this small community,” remembers Burks. “However, as Frisco has grown, our restaurant evolved into the prime steakhouse it is today.”
Randy’s Steakhouse is strategically located in the middle of the rapidly growing area around the new Toyota world headquarters and the new home of the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters. Housed in a structure built in 1869, it took Burks and his father a year to turn the old building into a restaurant. “When we first bought the house it was a residence owned by Vivian McCallum. The first time I walked through it I was able to envision everything. I envisioned the kitchen in the garage and each room a dining room full of guests,” says Burks.
The biggest change made to the structure was when Burks built an addition in 2001. The historical society approved the plan because Burks was re-creating an addition that was left on Preston Road when the home was put on logs and pulled by oxen to its current location in 1903.
Part of the expansion of the restaurant is a full-service bar. The bar is named after Burks’ daughter, Randie, whose name is etched in the mirrors and windows.
In line with Randy’s commitment to freshness is his approach to seasonal drinks. “We use our own tastes as well as our customers’ requests to help us experiment. We try several different approaches and then use what works,” say bartender Haley Flemming.
Seasonal drinks include a cucumber martini made from house-infused cucumber vodka, cucumber juice, lemon juice and St. Germain liqueur. The raspberry Tuaca lemon drop is made from Tuaca, lemon juice and Chambord, served in a glass with a sugar rim.
Favorite cocktails at Randy’s Steakhouse are the Deep Mule, a combination of Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, fresh lemon juice, fresh basil and ginger beer. Randy’s signature drink, Randy’s Cosmo, is a blend of Absolute Mandrin, 03 Premium Orange liqueur, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice. Randy also created a coffee drink with white creme de cocoa, Baileys and Kahlua.
Today, Randy’s Steakhouse has a charming, historical look and feel, with rooms filled with antiques, vintage wallpaper and lighting. Smaller rooms, which were once bedrooms, serve the restaurant well for a private dinner or an intimate setting. There are many traditions and memories inside Randy’s Steakhouse. Framed family portraits line the walls. The overall feel is one of Southern hospitality.
There is a lovely patio in the professionally landscaped backyard for outdoor dining. The restaurant often hosts business dinners, rehearsal dinners and large family gatherings. Randy’s Steakhouse offers many steakhouse menu items. Each item has a special ingredient or flair that updates it without losing the time-honored tradition of a steakhouse dish. Crab cakes are plump and loaded with crabmeat and fresh corn, which adds a rich sweetness.
Burks even adds something special to traditional Caesar salad: a little kick of jalapeños in the dressing spices it up. And, instead of the traditional croutons, he tops the Caesar salad with freshly made grilled cheese crackers.
Randy’s Steakhouse tackles things that are timing critical. The steaks arrive exactly as ordered. Scallops are cooked to perfection and tender, and the mouthfeel is almost like really good sashimi. Everything is prepared and served at exactly the right moment.
When asked what the most popular item on his menu is, Burks responds instantly with pride: “The blackberry filet was created during one of our monthly Wine Dinners. I wrote the recipe to complement a Cabernet Sauvignon that we served. The guests at the Wine Dinner enjoyed it so much we decided to put it on our menu. It has been a very big success.”
Madelyn Miller is a freelance writer who specializes in travel and food articles. Follow her on travellady.com.