The 1974 horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has become a staple in the south — written and directed by Austin filmmaker and UT Austin alumn Tobe Hooper — and its film locations draw fans from all around the world. An hour northwest of Austin in Kingsland, Texas sits the most sought-after spot to visit: the building and restaurant that serves as the film setting home of the deranged cannibalistic family including the notorious Leatherface himself. And now, there are new owners of the properties (including an Austin restaurateur) who have updated the Grand Central Cafe, the Club Car Bar, and the Antlers Inn spaces late last year.
New owners Courtney and Mike Rhodes and Taco Flats owner Simon Madera and wife Hobie Sasser acquired the 1010 King Court properties in November 2022. Under their purview, they changed the existing Grand Central Cafe with a railroad theme into the sleeker Hooper’s, in honor of the legendary Texas filmmaker who passed away in 2017.
Co-owner Rhodes told Daily Trib that they want to turn the new Hooper’s into “a community space.” Since the house and inn are registered as a Texas Historic Landmark, both are protected from heavy alterations to the century-old Victorian. Co-owner Madera emphasized in the same article that the group isn’t “a development company coming in here to reshape the landscape or bring an absentee-owner mindset.” For them, Hooper’s was a “hands-on approach.”
To further their appreciation for Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and locals, the owners asked for fans to donate a chainsaw for an art installation with a one-year commitment to keeping it at the restaurant complete with the owner’s name and the tool’s backstory. The rest of the interior contains subtle and eye-catching nods to the history of the house.
As a casual Southern restaurant, Hooper’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as cocktails. Mornings include huevos rancheros, omelets, pancakes, and breakfast tacos; lunch spans sandwiches from hot chicken to a veggie burger to a Texas BLT, plus chips and queso, hummus, and chicken wings; dinner includes Southern staples like chicken fried steak, along with blackened ribeye steak and chicken alfredo. There are drinks as well (Madera also runs East Austin bar La Holly) with alcoholic and nonalcoholic options. Specialty cocktails are named in honor of, you know, such as the Ripper, Bloody Marilyn (presumably a take on the bloody mary), and Grandpa Sawyer.
The grounds also include a coffee shop, which stayed open while the team restored the buildings, serving cafe dishes like banana bread, coffee cake, pastries, and broccoli quiches. During the restoration process, the bar served sporadically, updating patrons on its Facebook page when it’d be open for football games until it fully opened on March 1.
Hooper’s plans to appeal to horror fans, locals, and tourists. Visitors also don’t have to be familiar with the Texas Chain Saw Massacre to enjoy the food and drinks. Its hours are from Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This isn’t Madera’s first time revamping existing or bringing back closed restaurants. In 2014, he revitalized the dive bar and restaurant Taco Flats with the blessings of the original owner (and now there are several locations and food trucks throughout Austin, including the space that had housed fast-casual restaurant Zocalo Cafe in Clarksville). In 2018, he turned dive bar Kellee’s Place into La Holly. And then in 2020, he took over what had been Micklethwait Craft Meats’s Smithville restaurant and turned it into the Mexican smoked meats restaurant Carne Lenta.