Photo by Gene Davis
Higher-end restaurant serves diners near Briarcliff
Emcee’s Eatery offers people in the Briarcliff area a new dining option.
The eclectic, higher-end restaurant is in a location that previously housed run-down bars, most recently Elmo’s. Despite having a loyal customer base, owner Emcee Bantz said it has been a challenge to let the community know that a nice, sit-down restaurant is at the location.
“A lot of local people will come in and go, ‘Oh, we’ve seen this place, but we haven’t stopped by because we figured it was just like Elmo’s,’” Bantz said. “That’s something we’ve had to work hard to overcome.”
Elmo’s burned down in 2009, and the building was sold as it was being rebuilt. Bantz said she heard about the building and decided it would be a good chance for her to get back into the restaurant industry.
Bantz spent much of her life in restaurants. When she was in third grade, her mother moved to Las Vegas and worked in restaurants.
“It was just something I was familiar with,” she said.
As an adult, Bantz opened and ran several bars and restaurants in San Angelo. She said she felt like she was getting too old for the restaurant industry and in the late ’90s went to work in the mortgage and real estate business.
But the economic downturn ended that career and got her back into restaurants.
Bantz said running a restaurant does not get easier with age. However, she said she has enjoyed getting back into the profession where she spent much of her life.
Before opening Emcee’s Eatery, Bantz was living in Houston and commuting to her house in Briarcliff. She said she had always felt like the Briarcliff area could use a nicer restaurant.
Bantz said she prides her restaurant on its variety. The menu has everything from baked cod to pizza, and the daily special can be pork roast one day and pho soup the next.
“I want to give people lots of variety so it can be something different every time,” she said.
All of the dishes at Emcee’s Eatery are cooked to order. When the restaurant first opened, Bantz said she received customer complaints that meals took too long to prepare.
As a result, Bantz revamped the menu to reduce preparation time. She said the waitstaff will also tell customers if they order something that will take longer to cook.
Emcee’s Eatery gets a wide range of customers, Bantz said. People vacationing from Houston, campers and locals all frequent the restaurant, she said.
“We have customers that are as loyal as can be,” she said.
Mark Hackler said he goes to the restaurant several times a month. He said he looks at what the daily special is every time he passes the restaurant.
“It’s great food, great people and has a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very nice place.”
- Spanokapita, which is phyllo dough filled with spinach and feta cheese, is one of the most popular appetizers at the restaurant. The finger food is served with a dip made from a sweet Thai sauce and chili pepper paste. ($7.75)
- The baked cod fish is a thick, New England cod that is baked with a crusty au gratin top. The cod is served with a creamy baked potato and fresh vegetables. ($16.75)
- The lemon chicken is a piece of chicken sautéed in white wine that is served on angel hair pasta. The dish has a special butter that includes freshly picked garlic, and is served with capers, lemon, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. ($15.75)
In addition to being a restaurant, Emcee’s Eatery also caters events.
Restaurant owner Emcee Bantz said the restaurant can work with event organizers on a menu that suits their needs. Since Emcee’s Eatery has a wide range of dishes, the restaurant can offer everything from Mexican food to kabobs to specialty items.
Bantz said catering was a chance for Emcee’s Eatery to get out into the community. The restaurant has catered events held by organizations such as the Spicewood Society for Performing Arts.
Emcee’s Eatery, 108 S. Pace Bend Road, Spicewood, 264-0029, www.emceeseatery.com