Culture / Entertainment

Ben Berg’s The Ranch Steakhouse Returns to the Rodeo With a Sold-Out Crowd, New Perks and Serious Entertainment Power

An Opening Night Like No Other

BY // 02.28.24

On opening night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, it’s a standing room only crush in The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon, restaurateur extraordinaire Ben Berg’s swank gift to well-heeled Rodeo fans. The first-come, first-served Saloon is sardine packed adding to the energy that opening night delivers while in the Steakhouse each of the 240 tables is taken.

Clearly, this promises to be a sell-out season for the Berg Hospitality Group’s official sponsorship at Rodeo Houston.

In the steakhouse, waiters scurry across the plank wood floor pushing carts loaded with Wagyu beef steaks, ribeyes and filets for those happy to plunk down premium prices for prime beef. This is not budget dining and not a lightweight crowd. No surprise then that the B&B Butchers & Restaurant caviar is a popular menu item.

And how about the duo of cowgirls who feasted on a massive tray of lobster tails?

Berg Hospitality, Rodeo Houston, The Ranch Steakhouse
Opening night at Berg Hospitality Group’s The Ranch Steakhouse was a sellout with all 240 tables filled more than once. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)

Berg, who had hosted a stakeholders cocktail reception earlier in the day, drops in mid-crush, fresh from a daughter’s soccer game. Which explains why rather than his typical Rodeo season Western wear, the native New Yorker is dressed in sports coat and slacks.

But we couldn’t miss Berg’s striking new pair of alligator boots adorned with The Ranch logo. He quipped that the fancy footwear from M.L. Leddy cost more than his first car.

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Ben Berg, Berg Hospitality Group, M.L Leddy boots
Ben Berg’s alligator boots bearing the The Ranch logo made my M.L. Leddy of Fort Worth

“It’s probably the best smelling leather store I’ve ever been in,” Berg says of the Houston outpost of the Fort Worth-based boot maker.

Berg makes the rounds of The Ranch tables visiting with diners, pointing out the improved decor that includes Western art that is actually for sale, light fixtures dressed with Western hats, and most importantly the swaths of acoustic-softening fabric that cover the tent ceiling.

“That was the one complaint we had last year. It was too loud,” Berg says.

Indeed, the acoustics are much more diner friendly than in the previous two years. Also new this year are four satellite bars in the saloon making it easier to secure an adult libation.  The themed satellites are the Cosmopolitan Bar, Whiskey Bar, Aperol Spritz Bar and a Tequila Bar offering Patrón Margaritas and “The Ranch” Waters.

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The Ranch menus feature signature dishes from Berg Hospitality’s B&B Butchers & Restaurant, The Annie Cafe & Bar and B.B. Lemon, along with selections created specially for the Houston Rodeo. Think Chef Tommy’s bacon and crab totasdas and in the steakhouse, where table reservations are required, Kobe, Texas and Japanese Wagyu beef and dry-aged USDA Prime beef.

An added attraction to the Berg Hospitality Group real estate at the Rodeo is the Skillet, a walk-up window where Rodeo goers can grab an elevated version of handheld favorites. For example: B&B Butchers Friday Famous Hotdog, chicken fried steak on a stick and a smash burger with caramelized onions and American cheese on a potato roll. Nearby picnic tables provide seating for the pickups.

A Ranch Rodeo Premiere For Runaway June

Runaway June performs at noon this Saturday at Rodeo Houston's  The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon.
Runaway June performs at noon this Saturday at Rodeo Houston’s  The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon.

This year also sees the continuation of the popular “The Ranch After Dark,” for which DJs spin tunes nightly and popular country artists and bands perform live sets Saturdays and Sundays. But Berg is particularly excited about the March 2 afternoon performance of Runaway June, a trio of glamorous country singers that he believes are destined to become the next Dixie Chicks.

In fact, Billboard has proclaimed Runaway June the Next Hot Trend in Country Music and likened them to The Chicks for a new generation. In addition the trio’s  harmonies and Western-rooted sound have earned them the title of the Next Women of Country by CMT.

Runaway June will headline the “Darty at The Ranch” (a day party with drinks and yummy bites) which is scheduled from 11 am to 2 pm on this Saturday, March 2, first come first served general admission. The trio will perform at noon this Saturday.

For 2024, it only gets better at The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon. The best way to get there: Alto. No parking hassles. No worries. Recharged my iPhone on the way over to a nice dropoff  location with a tram to take you from the dropoff point to the Houston Rodeo gates. Same for the return.

Details on all The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon’s events, hours, menus and more are available here.

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