Writer: ROY MAYNARD / Photographer: SARAH A. MILLER / Tyler Morning Telegraph
It’s all about timing. That’s true of the music that emits from the stage of the new Red Rooster Icehouse in Hawkins – and it’s true of the Red Rooster itself.
Big Sandy native Brandon Baker, a former paramedic and concert promoter, sold his business last year – Outhouse Tickets, which has handled some of the biggest shows and venues in East Texas. He was ready for a new challenge.
His wife, Erin Wright, has her own business, building custom homes. She was ready to try something new, too.
And when another Hawkins native, chef Wayne Turner, returned to East Texas to care for his mother, everything came together.
“Opening a place like this – a restaurant and bar and music venue – is something we’ve been talking about doing for a while now,” said Baker. “Once I sold my company, I was really ready to do something else. Hawkins has never had a bar in the city limits before, so I met with the mayor and the City Council and the economic development committee – we wanted to be sure they wanted us here. But they did, and we started the process.”
After a lengthy approval process with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Red Rooster Icehouse opened in mid-January. It has country music artists lined up for the next few months, with more announcements coming soon. Some of the headliners include Charlie Robison, Mickey and the Motorcars, Billy Joe Shaver and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
“I can’t play an instrument or sing at all, but I love the music,” said Baker. “That’s why I’m doing this.
The venue is starting with a couple of big shows per month.
“We wanted to start a little slower, with more free shows and local bands,” Baker said. “We don’t have cover charges for the local bands, we just want people to come out and take a look at us.”
The Red Rooster Icehouse hopes to draw patrons from surrounding areas, including Lake Hawkins, Holly Lake, Mineola and Quitman.
“If you live up here, your options are limited,” he said.
The menu, which is constantly expanding, features burgers and steaks, but also some more novel items. Chef Wayne Turner, who once owned a wine bar in Grapevine, has introduced his fried bologna club sandwich – a dish that has sold out nearly every night the Red Rooster has been open.
“When Wayne told me about it, I said no one’s going to buy a fried baloney sandwich,” Baker said. “But people love it.”
The Bacon on Bacon burger isn’t the usual bacon cheeseburger – the restaurant has a custom grind that adds bacon to the black angus in the patty.
But perhaps the bestseller so far is the bourbon-glazed salmon.
“That’s what I’ll usually order,” said Baker. “It’s my favorite.”
Hawkins has seen some growth in recent years, and Baker says he’s confident the timing is right for the Red Rooster Icehouse.
“We’ve got industry coming in, and the population here is growing,” Baker said. “And I owned that lot for five or six years before we started building. I just felt the time was right.”
The Red Rooster Icehouse, 1470 N. Beaulah St. (FM 14) in Hawkins, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. to midnight on weekends.