Restaurant shows flare for publicity

September 01, 2000

Restaurant shows flare for publicity

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

Flames at the Black Steer Family Steakhouse aren't limited to cooking: Periodically since Monday, flames about 25 feet high have been shooting out from above a wooden steer on the roof.

The hope is that the 2.5-second special effect designed to look like one really angry steer will draw families and children to the restaurant off U.S. 11 at 18221 Mason Dixon Road, said co-owner Bill Kontogiannis.

He had long wanted to do some kind of special effect with the steer, which has been on top of the restaurant since 1996, he said.

One of his dreams was to have smoke come out of the steer's nostrils, but he put the idea on hold after being told it wasn't safe, he said.


Instead, the restaurant paid a Texas company about $10,000 to rig the steer so a propane flame shoots off periodically during business hours, he said.

The flame won't be affected by rain or snow, but a safety feature prevents it from working when winds are high, he said.

The reaction so far has been positive, he said.

Jeff Shupp, a salesman delivering Holsum bread, said he liked the effect.

Although he was standing more than 50 feet away when the flame came on Tuesday morning, he said he could feel the heat it produced.

Bharat Patel, owner of the adjacent Econolodge, said he also likes the effect.

"I think at night it will look good," he said.

It has, however, caused some confusion.

After seeing the flame Monday night, one person thought a transformer exploded and another thought there was a fire on the roof, restaurant employees said.

Kontogiannis said he has warned local fire departments that they may get calls from startled passersby.

While waiting for the steer to have another heated moment, he looked at it again and said he was pleased with the result.

"It's something different and rare," Kontogiannis said.

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