After taking a break to be cool concessionaires at the State Fair of Texas, the owners of Southside Steaks & Cakes have reopened their sunny South Dallas restaurant on Al Lipscomb Way.
"Our customers have been coming in telling us they missed us, and they are so excited that we are back," says co-owner Nicole Sternes.
The shutdown wasn't in vain. After only their second year as concessionaires, Sternes and her husband, Chris Easter, were Big Tex Choice Award winners of the coveted best sweet prize for their creation Peanut Butter Paradise. When you have a significant win like that, winners have to make big plans and tough decisions.
"The first year we closed down we wanted our staff to experience the fair and we didn't have enough staff to do both, and this year it was the same issue. We needed even more staff with us being award winners," explains Sternes.
But now, in early November, it was time to open back up.
"We've had some new customers come in. They heard about us from the fair," Sternes says.
"It's been 75 percent new customers," Easter adds. "We didn't lose because we closed down. Since we opened back up this week, it's been mostly new customers, and our sales are higher."
The couple jokingly calls their restaurant the "Trap House" because they say their food is addictive. Southside Steaks & Cakes does a Texas take on the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Theirs has jalapeños, bell peppers, banana peppers, onions and melted cheese on top of sliced beef or chicken with a side of fries. It can be made as a sandwich, wrap or quesadilla.
The cheesesteak menu is called the "Cheesesteak Trap Menu," with names that play on the colloquialisms of trap house culture. You can get a Nickel Bag, which is a sandwich with fries, a dime sack, a small sandwich with chicken or steak and four wings with one of 18 sauce options. Or why not get the Pre-Rolled Blunt, a cheesesteak in a wrap?
The Easters have introduced some of their fair favorites as well.
"Before, we only had the J Drink, which is our signature fruit drink for any customer. But this time, we brought back daiquiris, which we sold at the fair for our older customers."
"Here, you can get a fried honey bun, you can get a fried cinnamon roll, fried Reeses, fried funnel cake with toppings. Fried everything,” says Sternes.
The owners want customers to try more than just their desserts though, and will soon have a new specialty sandwich each month. Southside is also working on new amenities like online ordering and has recently eliminated call-in orders because it was too hard to manage.
The menu is streamlined as well. Sternes and Easter took cues from major restaurant chains such as Raising Canes and Chick-fil-A, which have a limited menu but heavy and continuous traffic. Don't worry if you don't see a menu item you previously ordered and loved: You can still order it, which is one of the perks of being a customer before learning about their food from the fair.
And while you can skip the long lines you'd find at the fair, that doesn’t necessarily mean there might not be a bit of a wait, as everything is made to order.
"We sell fresh food, not fast food," Sternes boasts. "We look at how can we make it more comfortable for the customers. We have games for people, dominos, checkers and cards. So, people don't care as much about the wait.”