For a taste of grass-fed beef raised on a historic familyowned cattle ranch in Texas, Svante’s Ranch Direct customers have their choice of four beef-buying options, owner Chris Swenson said.
In downtown Round Rock, Svante’s Ranch Direct restaurant, which opened in October 2015, serves hamburgers, steaks and other menu options featuring grass-fed beef raised on the family’s ranch as well as locally sourced produce and housemade baked goods.
Around the corner from the restaurant is a retail storefront where customers can buy ground beef, steaks and other select cuts to take home.
“It’s a much healthier product than having your beef go through a feed lot with all the additives, all the hormones, all the antibiotics. So it’s all-natural beef,” Swenson said. “The main thing for me is … it tastes better.”
The idea of linking today’s food service operations back to the family’s ranching tradition came from Swenson’s sons, who started a food truck business in 2012. The Swenson brothers began selling specialty hamburgers made with grass-fed beef from the ranch, including the Space Jam burger, which is topped with a bacon and onion jam and pepper jack cheese.
“A lot of Paleo diet [followers] discovered them, [and] they started getting more and more corporate catering and outings,” Swenson said. “They had that kind of vision to do that.”
The brothers also named the business for their ancestor, Svante Magnus—also known as S.M.—Swenson. S.M. was born in Jonkoping, Sweden, in 1816 and arrived in Texas in 1838.
The company’s blue and yellow motif is a nod to the Swedish flag.
“S.M. Swenson was the first Swedish immigrant in Texas,” Swenson said. “He was my great-great grandfather.”
Along with his uncle, Svante Palm, S.M. encouraged and supported immigration from Sweden to Texas, creating what was commonly known as the Swedish pipeline, Swenson said.
In 1882, S.M. and his sons founded the SMS Ranch on land he had acquired north of Abilene, much of which has stayed in the family.
Just as the Swensons can trace their heritage directly back to their pioneering ancestors, the business owner said the beef his family sells is traceable from the ranch through the processor to the table.
“We know exactly where it’s been. We take care of the animals better,” Swenson said. “We’re more accountable for it and do it the right way.”
201 E. Main St., Ste. 102, Round Rock
Hours: Mon.-Tue. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m.; Wed.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. (brunch) 10 a.m.-3 p.m.