Taste of Texas: When a Steakhouse Becomes a Mission Field
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HOUSTON -- Everything is bigger in Texas, even their love for food. But there's one restaurant in Houston that's also becoming known for its love of the Lord.
The landmark steakhouse Taste of Texas is famous for selling certified angus beef.
You could also call it a museum of Texas history with its guns on the wall, along with artifacts and documents from heroes of the wild frontier like Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.
A Mission Field
But there's more to this restaurant than meets the eye. The owners, Edd and Nina Hendee, call it their mission field, and it starts with a prayer walk every morning.
"So when we get to work in the morning, we walk this huge 18,000-square foot, 500-seat restaurant, and pray for all that God will bring to us on this day because this is our ministry," Nina said.
"My wife is very faithful about that. She will walk and I'll go with her, but she's the instigator or this," her husband, Edd said. "She'll walk the four corners of the building and pray for the employees, and the customers, and special times when we have special guests coming."
The Hendees are quite bold about their Christian faith. The first thing you see when you walk through the front doors is a cornerstone with two scriptures on it that have special meaning to Edd and Nina after they dedicated their building to the Lord.
Edd picked the scripture. It says, "All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you."
He chose this scripture because he thought even after his steakhouse is long gone one day, the Word of God will remain.
His wife chose. It says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
She chose this scripture to remind her how the family business has prospered greatly beyond their expectations.
Once customers enter the Taste of Texas doors, they are greeted by Christian music. These days, a bold move like that could often be criticized, but that hasn't been the case for the Hendees.
"In the restaurant business, I was taught a long time ago, there's two things you never talk about: One is religion, one is politics," Edd said. "Well, those are two subjects that are near and dear to our hearts. Religion, of course, our faith, being our first and foremost."
The doors to Taste of Texas opened 38 years ago. Today, it's the largest independently owned restaurant in the state and the top 30 in the country. They serve thousands of customers each week and employ more than 200 people. TripAdvisor lists it as No. 4 out of nearly 7,000 restaurants in Houston.
The Picture Wasn't Always Rosy...
But there was a time in the beginning when the steakhouse wasn't always this successful.
That's when Edd and Nina began to seek God for guidance.
"When your business isn't doing well, you find yourself on your knees in prayer, in anguishing prayer," Edd said. "It wasn't too far, and I finally just asked, 'Well Lord, what do you want me to do?'"
"At a time we were really broke, we borrowed $10,000 to open, and at the end of eight years, we were a quarter of a million dollars in debt and God encouraged us to be persistent," Nina told CBN News.
The Hendees committed Taste of Texas to the Lord and their persistence paid off. While this steakhouse rich in Texas history may go down in history itself, the trials didn't end there.
In 2010, they lost their son, Edd K. Hendee, in a skiing accident in Vermont's Stratton Mountain Resort.
"He was married to a beautiful young woman," Nina said. "They had three small children and in a blink he was gone. He caught an edge skiing, hit a tree, tore his aorta and was gone in the blink of an eye."
"When you get that phone call, it shakes you really all the way down to your foundation," Edd said. "It didn't shake our faith, but it did cause me, and I guess, anyone involved in that situation, to sit down and just say ,'Okay, in the midst of this storm, what do I really believe?'"
Faith in the Storm
Edd added that Christians often find themselves in a storm or in between storms, but can take comfort in knowing that God is there in the midst of it.
That's certainly been the case for the Hendees. About a year ago, a twin-engine plane that Edd was piloting crashed after someone put the wrong fuel into it.
"It would be like putting diesel in a Porsche, and then just enough for us to get back up in the air again for both engines to quit," he explained.
"And we found ourselves in a cloud layer over East Texas and we came down right on a highway and lived to walk away, opened the door of the plane and walked out," he said. "And that is absolutely a miracle of God."
Edd says he's happy to have an extra year added to his life. Now, he's going on year two.
In the meantime, he and his wife and their entire family will keep running Taste of Texas as they make plans to expand.
They will continue honoring the Lord with their lives and even their restaurant décor, displaying true Texas tales of the famous frontiersmen who were also passionate about their Christian faith.
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