A longtime honky-tonk in the east is taking a big step west. Southern Junction Nightclub and Steakhouse, a steakhouse and country nightclub in Royse City, is opening a second branch in the centrally located city of Irving.
Southern Junction will bring along all of its honky-tonk essentials including live music, dancing, and even a mechanical bull. But it also has something extra that other honky-tonks do not: a full steakhouse restaurant menu.
The Royse City original opened in 1985 but really came into its own in 1987 when it was taken over by Paul Morelan. He used his restaurant experience to create a menu, combined with a stellar lineup of country music acts. Performers who played there include Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Dwight Yoakam. A dress code calls for "no spurs."
Morelan and his wife, Sandy, retired in 2008. Current owners include Charles Houk and Chris Harlow, who executed Morelan's vision and found a new partner in Eric Linder, who wanted a new concept in Irving.
The club will open in a roomy hall with more than 20,000 square feet at 101 N. Rogers Rd., just west of old downtown Irving, in a space that was once a nightclub called Texas Dance Depot, but was most recently an event space called Lindero Ranch.
"Irving is a really interesting place," Houk says. "Right now, the audience for our current location is limited mostly to people from the east side of the Metroplex. People come in for special occasions, but we know there are people who'd like what we offer if we were more convenient. The Irving location is right in middle of the Metroplex."
They expect to be open in early spring, once they punch out on a few requests from the city of Irving, including the completion of a parking lot nearby.
Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 6 pm to 2 am, and 3 am on weekends. There's a nicely built stage for performers, plus pool tables, free line dancing lessons, and "buck-off" nights where people compete for the prize of best rider on the mechanical bull, just like in Urban Cowboy.
Steak is the star of the small menu, with filet, rib-eye, New York strip, T-bone, and kabob in chicken or beef. Sides consist of chicken salad, a salad, or a baked potato.
There's also a unique feature where customers can select their cut of meat and cook-their-own on grills set up inside the restaurant. The trimmings from the steak are used to make burgers.
"Paul had a steakhouse in Houston before he opened Southern Junction, called Texas Steakhouse Ranch," Houk says. "All of our recipes were passed down from him. The spice rub we put on the steaks came from Paul, as did the aging process."
And the idea to transform from restaurant into a party atmosphere as the night grows late also came from Morelan.
"Dallas probably does not need another honky-tonk and it sure doesn't need another steakhouse — but what we do is unique in that we have both of those things under one roof at the same time," Houk says.