Parker County Today April 2018 - Page 11

But it’s his Reata Restaurants that most people think of when they hear the Micallef name. He opened his first Reata 23 years ago in Alpine and another in Fort Worth 22 years ago.  He loves how his restaurants have become the back drop for the happy times of so many lives. “We have a pretty good record on the people who have gotten engaged here,” Micallef said. “I’ve been all over the world and people come up to me and say, ’We got engaged there,’ or ‘We went to Reata for our first date.’”  While restaurants come and go and people quickly grow bored with many of the concepts that were once considered exciting, Reata’s luster seems to be timeless. “It continues to grow every year,” he said. Micallef makes no bones about it. He didn’t really set out to open the ultimate, classic Texas Eatery. “I named it after the fictional ranch in the novel Giant,” Micallef said.  Reata’s chicken-fried steak is raved about by Texas cuisine aficionados and lauded as supreme. That’s quite an accomplishment for a Texas restaurateur, who isn’t exactly a native Texan.  “The first week we opened, I saw a party of six older ladies come in and they all looked like they knew how to cook chicken-fried steak,” Micallef said. “I thought, ‘Oh boy! I’m in trouble.’” But, when they were about to leave they stopped Micallef to say how much they loved their lunch and especially their chicken-frieds.  “I was so happy,” Micallef said.  Reata is actually the direct result of Micallef’s Texaness.  Micallef longed to be a rancher (what’s a Texan without a spread? Right?) so by the early ‘90s he started looking to buy a “little land.” At first, he bought about 10,000 acres in Alpine, the CF Ranch. He purchased a few more parcels of property along the way until he ended up with 156,000 acres. He’s since scaled it down a bit and has about 20,000. The more time Micallef spent at his ranch in Alpine, the closer he came to a startling conclusion: “There was no place out there,” Micallef said.  So, in classic Micallef fashion, he opened a restau- rant — and what a restaurant it was! He called it Reata. Opened for business in 1995, it was housed in a charm- ing old ranch house (still is). From the beginning, the food was spectacular.  One of Micallef’s Fort Worth friends in the bank- ing business came down to spend a week at the ranch. They ate a number of times at Reata. The friend was impressed and relentless about how Fort Worth needed a Reata in Downtown. Micallef kept telling him that he “was not in the restaurant business. I just wanted to have some place to eat.” By the end of his friend’s stay, Micallef had stopped protesting and began to marvel at the possibilities of a downtown Fort Worth Reata. “When I started using the name Reata, no one was Now Serving Two Locations •Small Animal •Large Animal •Boarding •Grooming Ryan E. Cate, DVM artwork@parkercountytoday.com 1421 FM 1189 Ste. 4 | Brock, TX 76087 (817) 599-8085 Mon-Thur: 7:30am–6pm | Fri: 7:30am–5pm 819 Santa Fe Drive | Weatherford, TX 76086 (817) 594-0216 | Metro: (817) 596-8808 Mon-Fri: 8am–5:30pm | Sat: 8am–12pm • Emergency calls after hours • Sign up for the Parker County Today Newsblast and find out for free. All you need to do is send a request to be added to the e-mail list: 9