“I’m a firm believer in ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’” Carter said. “Our customers prefer dependability, and they know they can count on us. We’re in our 28th year now. … It’s very humbling.”
After spending several years working in other Greater Houston area restaurants and learning the business of hospitality, Carter said he decided to take the plunge and opened Valley Ranch Grill & Barbeque on Dec. 8, 1991. Described as a combination of Luther’s Bar-B-Q—where he used to work—and Chili’s, Carter said the eatery offers a full line of slow-smoked, South Texas Mesquite meats with complementary sides such as green beans, potato salad and corn on the cob.
“Our most popular items are probably our ribs and our chopped baked potato—it’s huge,” Carter said. “It’s the biggest potato you can buy, and it’s about 20 ounces of potato.”
In addition, the eatery also boasts half- and three-quarter-pound burgers, grilled catfish, grilled pork chops, fajitas and a variety of salads and desserts such as fresh fruit cobblers and fried ice cream.
While Carter said the original restaurant was located in a strip center, decked in dark wood and donated boots, he decided to build a new standalone building in the same shopping center in 2008.
“The new restaurant is actually 1,000 square feet smaller than the old restaurant, but it’s a much more usable space,” Carter said. “We have a banquet room that can be reserved for special events, or it can be opened up for extra seating if our dining room gets too crowded.”
The new restaurant also features a drive-thru, a designated pick-up area for to-go orders and a playroom for children. Inside, the decor includes a windmill, waterfall and a toy train that runs the perimeter of the restaurant.
While Carter said little has changed about his eatery’s dedication to quality food and customer service since it first opened 28 years ago, his outlook on business has been completely overhauled.
“Originally, it was a way to make a living,” he said. “But once the Lord came into my life, I realized I needed to use my restaurant as my mission—as a place for people with searching hearts. So this is his; not mine. And we’re just trying to glorify him in all that we do.”
Valley Ranch Grill & Barbeque
22548 Hwy. 249, Houston
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.