Longhorn Steakhouse stampedes into Morristown
Months of preparation came down to the lunch grand opening of Longhorn Steakhouse on April 14.
“On behalf of the Chamber, we thoroughly appreciate Longhorn choosing Morristown for its newest location,” Chamber Chair Roni Snyder said.
“Like most of us here, we’ve been up to the mall, we’ve watched the changes, we’ve seen the new building going up and wondering what was going to be inside. This is the result of many, many months of work. We certainly appreciate Longhorn not only joining the Chamber, but joining as a Goldstar member. So we welcome you guys to town.”
Managing Partner Chad Wurster of Fort Myers, Florida has assisted in opening several Longhorn Steakhouse locations; however, the Morristown location has provided him with the opportunity to take on the challenge of overseeing the entire restaurant operations.
“I want to thank everybody for coming out,” Wurster said. “As we have gone through the community, we have been embraced and I am very pleased. Fort Myers is a little different, so this city has been a bit of a culture shock.
“I am very happy to be here,” he said. “We have been able to create 92 jobs. Everyone but maybe two came from the Morristown area. I think we have a great team, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
During the short ceremony, people began gathering at the front door for the 11 a.m. opening.
“I understand the phone has been ringing off the hook with people asking when they’re going to open, so there has been a lot of interest from the community, so I hope that not only Chamber members will support the restaurant, but that our community will as well,” Snyder said.
Ambra Offutt, Longhorn director of operations, oversees seven locations and explained the term “come-a-long guest.”
“We like to cook steaks,” Offutt said, receiving applause from the crowd. “But we like to cook other things, too. We have something for everybody. We call it the come-a-long guest. They can get all kinds of things other than steak, if you’re not interested in steak.”
Employees were trained during a five-day period, which included two Friends and Family weekends, during which the staff served more than 1,000 guests and raised funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Morristown. A donation presentation will be held at a later date.
“The most remarkable part of this whole process is them going from not knowing anything to then opening the doors and serving the public,” Offutt said.
According to Wurster, 400 applications were processed and 300 interviews were conducted to select the 92-member staff.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer