Most can agree that 2020 has been a crappy year so far, but now it’s getting much, much worse for native Texans.
Luby’s, the Houston-based restaurant chain, announced in a press release Tuesday that it would be dissolving. Luby’s Inc. board members voted on a liquidation plan that will sell off assets and enact “an orderly wind down” of operations.
The plan is awaiting approval from stockholders, the letter states, but Luby’s could still be sold if a “compelling offer” is made.
The cafeteria-style restaurant first opened in 1947, according to its website.
For many born and bred Texans, a trip to Luby’s was the next destination after a Sunday church service. There, famished patrons could treat themselves to the jiggliest Jell-O in all the land. Luby’s itself even weighed in when it boldly stated on Facebook that the red Jell-O “tastes wayyy better” than the blue or green. The nerve.
Meanwhile, the cafeteria’s heart attack-inducing chicken-fried steak would make Southern cooking queen Paula Deen cry lardy tears of joy. And who could forget the rousing LuAnn Platter, which was so sensational that it inspired King of the Hill creators to devise a character of the same name?
After the announcement, Luby’s stans flocked to the internet to reminisce and mourn.
“Closed. RIP you provided such great memories and so many wonderful meals,” someone wrote on Yelp, giving the establishment a coveted 5 stars. “When people ask me if I knew anyone that died from the Wuhan Flu, I answer yes, my old friend Luby.”
Within an hour of publication, an ABC13 Houston article about the news had attracted 210 comments and 214 shares on Facebook.
“This saddens me because to look at the food always helped me make a selection of what to eat,” one person wrote. “Come on Lucy's!! [sic]”
To help Texans grieve, we’ve compiled five must-watch videos to remember the good times and the bad.
"Introduction to the Luby's Line"
This informative video, narrated by Luby’s area leader John McMillan, teaches prospective diners how to walk through a cafeteria line. At the entrée area, McMillan is asked the ultimate question: What would he like to eat?
“I don’t know,” he says. “It all looks so good.”
(Spoiler alert: He settles on the jumbo pork chop.)
"Luby's Frozen Meals"
In 2018, Luby’s then-Chief Operating Officer Peter Tropoli appeared on a Houston news channel to promote the establishment’s latest offering: frozen fried fish.
The company had partnered with grocery store chain H-E-B in rolling out the product, which Tropoli reveals was made from “Arctic cod, caught with a hook on a boat.” Impressive.
"Square fish," which was a mainstay on the Luby's menu, is still available for purchase at H-E-B, according to its website.
"What's New at Luby's"
Texas cuisine isn’t the only thing that Luby’s nails. In this behind-the-scenes video, corporate chef Marcos Leal walks FOX 26 reporters through making a 580-calorie Mediterranean inspired meal: balsamic-glazed chicken with polenta. Leal reveals a trade secret when he suggests marinating the chicken breast overnight.
The reporters raved about the final product, but the video still attracted some critics.
“I used to love Lubys [sic], until I saw a roach on the booth,” one commenter wrote. “It wasn't this one, it was the one on Nasa parkway.”
"Remembering the Luby's Massacre: 28 Years Later"
In 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck through the front window of a Luby’s in Killeen, according to History.com. After that, he began shooting into a crowd of more than 100 diners, killing 23 and wounding 20 others.
Hennard, who died by suicide after a shootout with police, apparently had no motive.
The massacre later played an integral role in the passage of a state law that allows Texans with gun permits to carry concealed firearms, according to the article.
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This dude Craig Hlavaty really does love his Luby’s.
“It’s like beyond comfort food; it’s like, heavenly,” he gushes in this 2019 promotional ad. Each meal is made with an extra amount of “Luby’s love,” he continued.
Hlavaty would include Luby’s mac and cheese in his “Texas Mount Rushmore,” along with George Strait, Willie Nelson and The Alamo.
Looks like the Michelin Guide missed its chance to give Luby’s a star, but the Texas institution will live on in the heart of the Lone Star State.