The Door Is Still Open and Better Than Ever

by Meredith Kay | September 1, 2021 | '09 Eats
The Barn Door

The Barn Door Restaurant & Meat Market

Very few restaurants can claim that they have been serving loyal customers for nearly 70 years. Most restaurants statistically fail within the first five years of business. It is an incredibly difficult industry, but one area restaurant has withstood the test of time and has stood as one of our city’s most iconic establishments for many years.

The Barn Door Restaurant & Meat Market opened their doors in 1953, and they are still serving up perfectly grilled steaks and the freshest seafood today. The restaurant has become an icon in the Alamo Heights area, and they have served many generations of San Antonians over the years. Everything at The Barn Door is made fresh and in-house. The steaks are wet-aged in-house, and their delicious salad dressings are made fresh daily. The restaurant prides itself on producing consistent quality each and every day, and their amazing staff works hard to uphold those values that have allowed the restaurant to not only survive the ups and downs of the economy but to thrive, even during the pandemic. From the friendly greetings when you walk through the door to the immaculately clean interior, it is evident that The Barn Door is a family business that cares about the customers’ experience.

Randy Stokes bought the restaurant in 2011, and he can still be seen greeting customers every day. The restaurant was remodeled in 2013 due to a devastating fire that took out the grilling station, but the changes were needed to inject new life into the business. Stokes says, “You don’t have to change, but you do have to evolve.” He spent the first 16 years of his professional career in the wholesale bakery business and jumped at the opportunity to purchase The Barn Door when he was approached by David Strauss, one of the original partners.

When asked what he feels is the biggest reason the restaurant continues to succeed, Stokes says, “It is the customer’s restaurant. I just manage the experience so that they want to come back.”

Since the restaurant opened, their delicious steaks have always been cooked on a grill over mesquite and charcoal. There isn’t even a gas line in the restaurant. The coals are kept alive every day, and even during the pandemic, which forced them to shut down for two months, Randy and his loyal team took turns keeping the fire burning, like the Olympic torch. In fact, the current grill master, Robert Cochran, has been manning the flames for over 35 years, and it was his uncle, Sonny, who lit the first coals when the restaurant opened in 1953. The restaurant staff considers itself family. Many of the employees have been there for over 20 years, including the restaurant manager, Trish Walls, who still keeps everyone in line after 24 years.

Food on a table at the Barn Door

The restaurant seats 450 people, and there is always a party in one of the private dining rooms. It’s the perfect place for holiday and corporate gatherings, and it can accommodate up to 150 people for a private event.

The menu features only the highest quality prime cuts of beef, along with an impressive selection of appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, salads, and specialty dishes, like their Sirloin Con Queso and their Grilled Quail. The steaks are grilled to perfection, and there are so many cuts to select from. They even feature Chateau Briand that can be cut for any number of guests.  If you can’t find something on this menu, then you just aren’t hungry.

As a legacy restaurant, The Barn Door has a reputation to maintain, and you can feel the hospitality the minute you walk through the front door. The food is delicious, the service is stellar, and the atmosphere makes you feel like you’re dining with friends. Randy Stokes is very proud of his staff and what they have built together, and it shows. He beams when he introduces his employees to new people, and he lives by his motto, “At the end of the day, it’s a passion, and we are here for our customers.”

by Meredith Keller

Photography by Al Rendon

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Half Texan on her mama’s side, Meredith grew up in Southern California and graduated from Pepperdine University, with a degree in Advertising. This allowed her to use words creatively, and to find her voice as a writer. She is a food enthusiast, and will eat anything but broccoli. Meredith has an incurable case of wanderlust, and she loves to cook, travel and eat. She spends her days raising two kids, and rescuing as many dogs as possible. She wanders the streets of San Antonio, and the rest of the world when she can, searching for great restaurants, tasty cocktails and interesting people. She is also still waiting for Shiner Bock to make her their official spokesperson.

Read more from Meredith Kay
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Al Rendon is a cultural documentary photographer with a studio in historic Southtown San Antonio. A native San Antonian, Al captures the people and culture that surround him in this graceful, expressive city. His understanding of his hometown merges with more than 30 years of professional photographic experience to fully document any event or cultural expression he is covering.

See more from Al Rendon

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