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Red Horse Steak House to close in June

May 29, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

After serving steaks and seafood for the past 45 years, the Red Horse Steak House & Anvil Bar will close its doors for good June 10.

Owner Chris Jefferies said he plans to retire and chose to liquidate the Dual Highway restaurant after his three children rejected the idea of taking over.

"It'll be a sad day," Jefferies said. "The worst thing will be to watch the bulldozer start pushing."

Jefferies said people have inquired about buying the restaurant's equipment.

He isn't sure, however, what will happen with the land.

"It's zoned commercial, so it's pretty open to possibilities," Jefferies said.

Standing in the Red Horse's kitchen next to knives that were worn down by years of sharpening, Jefferies said he wanted to thank all of his loyal customers and employees.

"I figured I cut over a million steaks in here," he said.

The restaurant was built in 1962 by Leo Riffle, who operated the Red Horse for four years before selling it to Chris' father, Elwood Jefferies.

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In 1972, Chris said he and his brother, Mark, bought the restaurant.

Ten years later, Chris became the sole proprietor when he purchased Mark's share.

"It wasn't his cup of tea," Chris said of his brother.

Jefferies, 56, said he started out washing dishes at the Red Horse and consistently logged 80-hour workweeks.

During that time, he said the restaurant has served famous reporters, politicians and legendary golfer Sam Snead.

One busy day several years ago, when a fire started in the restaurant's kitchen, Jefferies said diners continued eating.

"People were watching the fire," he said. "The fire department came in squirting. One guy said, 'I waited an hour for this steak. I'm not leaving.'"

Chef Bill Bullard said he worked in the kitchen on the day the restaurant opened, and will do the same when it closes next month.

"There'll be tears in my heart," he said. "This is my baby. I raised it since it was a little bitty thing."

Some of the other devoted employees include waiter Brian Murray, who started working at the restaurant in 1985, and bartender JoAnne Sica, who started there in 1989.

Hostess Winona Gourley started in 1973 and retired last November, one day after her 80th birthday. Waiter Bill McKeever retired in 2001 after 30 years of service.

Jefferies said he met his wife, Mary Fran, when she started working at the Red Horse in 1979.

Their marriage has lasted just a little longer than some of the gift certificates that customers continue to bring in.

"People are cashing in gift certificates from 1982 and 1994," Jefferies said. "I've never had a gift certificate expire. If people pay for it, it should be good."

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