Raymond Jones, a Buffalo, New York, native who has lived in Texas for most of his life, developed the idea for Buffalo Run after working at Barney’s Billiards Saloons throughout the Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas for more than 20 years. He opened his own business on Rayford Road in September 2018 after the Racks Bar and Grill he ran in Spring closed after Hurricane Harvey.
“We took what we had from Racks and had to make it work here, which literally left us with nothing when we opened,” Jones said. “It was like, ‘This place is either going to make it from day one or it’s going to fail from day one,’ and it’s been great. It’s been awesome.”
Focused on Family
Jones’ wife, Jennifer, is a full-time employee at Buffalo Run, and his son, Devon, also spends time at the restaurant. Buffalo Run emphasizes serving food in a family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere while still offering popular beverage options such as craft drinks and wine, Jones said.
“If we established ourselves as being a bar out of the gate, which is something we were really good at, we knew it would never be able to turn into a restaurant after that,” Jones said. “It’s a mom-and-pop shop that really doesn’t look like a mom-and-pop shop.”
Jones said community reception also played an important role in Buffalo Run’s development, as he wanted to build a spot that residents of Spring and The Woodlands area would appreciate having in their backyards.
“The people that come in here are our neighbors, and we’re not some company that’s just implanting a place to make a profit,” he said. “This is our community, this is where we live and this is where we’re staying.”
The Buffalo connection
Jones said featuring foods specific to western New York has been popular with both Texans and Northerners. Among the many items at Buffalo Run that Jones said are difficult to find in Texas is the Beef on Weck sandwich, a Buffalo staple made up of thin-sliced roast beef on kimmelweck rolls prepared in and served with au jus sauce.
The restaurant serves other Buffalo-style foods, some of which are on a “secret menu” available only to customers who know what they are asking for. Jones said those items as well as all of Buffalo Run’s bread and buns are shipped down from western New York for an authentic taste of home.
“The people from Buffalo seek it out, and they’re blown away ... It’s just the little things that people miss,” he said. “Some of the things we serve here from Buffalo you can’t get in Texas, and that’s why we serve them. But the people in Texas love that stuff.”
The focus on Buffalo has also attracted support from local Buffalo Bills fans, who not only turn out for football Sundays but also helped with Jones’ move to the new location. Jones even received donations of sports memorabilia from New York to adorn the new restaurant.
Building up the business
Despite the New York trappings, Jones has integrated some Texas touches at Buffalo Run. The beer menu includes many local craft options, and the Texans are always featured alongside the Bills on the largest screens in the house. Jones also hopes to grow his menu with local items such as steak and oysters, coupled with a newly successful seasonal crawfish offering.
“[Crawfish] exploded for us, it’s tripled our business in 30 days,” he said. “We’re trying to step the food up to where we’re packed no matter what.”
Jones said he is still thinking of improvements to make in the future. He has a new chef, and he also plans to add to the restaurant space with an expanded patio, more sports decor and a wall of interactive games for children.
“We know what we want to be; we still haven’t gotten there yet,” he said.
440 Rayford Road, Ste. 115, Spring
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.