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K-Bob’s Steakhouse is a regional restaurant chain that operates in the cattle country of Texasmarker and New Mexicomarker. Founded in 1966 in Clovismarker, New Mexico, by Gabe E. Parson (born 1938), the company sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1989, and reopened in 1991 under the ownership and management of Edward Roy Tinsley III (born ca. 1952), who relocated company headquarters from Dallasmarker to Albuquerquemarker, and then Santa Femarker.

Up from bankruptcy

In the late 1970s, an investor group purchased K-Bob’s. The new management team of Luther Lyle Walker and Robert E. Cotton, moved from the original focus of simple buffet-style, reasonably priced family foods to a more metropolitan fare. According to Vernon P. O’Rourke, then the vice-president of two K-Bob's in Texas, Walker and Cotton "went yuppyish is the way I describe it ... They took on almost every fad they possibly could."

At one point during the 1980s, there were nearly a hundred K-Bob's restaurants. There was a lack of cohesion among the franchisees, most of whom had never met one another or had the opportunity to exchange ideas. The company then "made decisions that appeared successful until economic times got tougher. They were working in the boom time, but when it ended, tough mistakes began to haunt them", said Tinsley in a 1992 interview with Robin Lee Allen of Nation’s Restaurant News.

According to the Dallas attorney Robert M. Nicoud, Jr., who represented K-Bob's, Inc., in bankruptcy court, the company "overexpanded and found itself in a position where it had to do whatever it could to keep cash coming in the door to keep operations going ... Eventually, they were carrying too heavy a debt load, and the general economy just turned around on them."

In October 1989, K-Bob's, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 from more than a hundred creditors. According to court papers, the company owed more than $38,000 to secured creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service, and $2.2 million to unsecured creditors, some of which were disputed. "I'm not sure the case would have gone anywhere if Tinsley had not come along", said Nicoud.

A native of Lamesamarker, the seat of Dawson Countymarker south of Lubbockmarker in West Texas, Tinsley retains memories of the role of K-Bob's in smaller towns, where "It was the school, the church and K-Bob's." Before acquiring K-Bob’s, Tinsley had been since 1978 a territory franchisee for Schlotzsky's, an Austinmarker-based sandwich and soup chain. He also owned a food-processing and distribution company known as Sun Country Honey. A graduate in accounting from The University of Texas at Austinmarker and in law from Texas Tech University, Tinsley, an attorney, has ranching, petroleum and natural gas interests in Lincoln Countymarker, New Mexico.

In April 1991, after a year of negotiations, the bankruptcy court transferred the assets of K-Bob's, Inc., to K-Bob's USA, Inc. The latter was required to pay debts to the former over a 10-year period. Since the purchase, Tinsley has concentrated on the roots of his company: He personally met his franchisees and launched a monthly corporate newsletter called The T-Bone Tribune.

When the federal minimum wage increased in 1997 from $4.75 to $5.15 per hour, The Wall Street Journal reported that Tinsley had prepared for the additional expense by selectively raising menu prices.

K-Bob’s today

The K-Bob’s menu features steaks, chicken, chicken-fried steak, catfish, vegetables, and salads. At one point, the company owned only one franchise, the since closed outlet in Truth or Consequencesmarker, New Mexico, which was used to test promotions and new marketing ideas before they were passed to the franchisees. The outlet in Socorromarker has launched an innovation, the "BBT Hideway" bar, named for Tinsley’s Hollywood friend Billy Bob Thornton.

Tinsley is the owner of Tinsley Hospitality Group, the master franchisor of K-Bob’s. The chief operating officer, Michael W. Myers, is a former president of the Back Yard Burgers, Inc., chain. Myers has also been associated with the MCap Restaurant Group and Whataburger, Inc. From 1999-2006, he was president and chief operating officer of Backyard Burgers.

K-Bob’s locations include Brenhammarker, Childressmarker, Corpus Christimarker, Dimmittmarker, Dumasmarker, Fort Stocktonmarker, Herefordmarker, and Lamesa. A former location in Amarillomarker is now closed. The New Mexico locations are Clovis, Las Vegasmarker, Ratonmarker, Ruidosomarker, Socorro, and Tucumcarimarker. The Oklahomamarker location is in Woodwardmarker, and the only Coloradomarker site is Cañon Citymarker.

From 2006 to 2007, Tinsley served as president of the National Restaurant Association. A Republican, he ran unsuccessfully in 2002 and 2008 for the United States House of Representatives from the 2nd congressional district of New Mexico. After the latter campaign, Tinsley indicated that he would seek to expand K-Bob's franchises during 2009. The company grew during 2008 by 5 percent.

References

  1. Christina Duff, "New Minimum Wage Makes Few Waves", The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 1996.



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