Not all celebrity-owned ventures are created equal. When it comes to restaurants and live music venues with a star owner, all too many spots feel like a pre-fab tourist trap cliché (see: the short-lived Dallas branch of the Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill).
The Rustic, the Uptown Dallas hot spot which features Texas country singer Pat Green as a co-owner, is an example of such a spot doing it right, though, with great attention to detail focused not only on the menu but in the quality of live-music bookings and concert presentation. Given its reputation for well-run good times and jaw-dropping alcohol sales, it makes sense that the Rustic inspired other enterprising restaurateurs and performers.
"We really like what the Rustic has done in Dallas," says Dallas-area restaurateur Josh Babb. "And we wanted to do something like that, with the focus on food and live entertainment, but we wanted to go outside of Dallas. With Southlake and Grapevine nearby, there's a lot of wealth around Roanoke."
Babb and Sean Clavir of Dallas-based Rock Libations found a willing partner in Randy Rogers, one of the biggest stars of the Texas country scene. The trio just opened ChopShop Live, a sprawling, 22,000 square-foot restaurant and live music venue in Roanoke, not too far from the Texas Motor Speedway.
Rogers became friendly with Babb and Clavir after becoming a fan of the sushi at Kenichi in Dallas before its 2017 closing, and they agreed to go into business together. Rogers lives in the Texas Hill Country and his expertise in outdoor concert spaces quickly became helpful to his team of restaurateurs.
"I told Sean and Josh, 'I've been doing this for 20 years, so don't spend any money on anything until you talk to me'," Rogers says. "Really, I didn't want them to build a stage or buy a PA or anything like that until they talked to my sound guy, Marty Weir, who's been in the business for 30 years, about what does and doesn't work when it comes to live music."
Look inside ChopShop in Roanoke on a busy evening:
The outdoor concert space features an 80-foot stage and will accommodate between 250 and 1,250 people, depending on the seating arrangements. Concerts each weekend will range from nationally touring country acts such as Wade Bowen and Eleven Hundred Springs
to party-ready, 'burb-rocking cover bands. Three converted shipping containers will offer cabana-style lounging with funky salvage yard pieces and picnic tables filling out the space.
With a structure design inspired by military-style Quonset huts, the Roanoke ChopShop looks wildly different than its sibling in Carrollton, which is based in a shopping center at Midway and Trinity Mills roads. But, with a focus on NASCAR-themed interior décor and family-friendly pub grub, there is some familiarity. The Roanoke spot will offer 32 beers on tap and menu items like Trash Can Nachos and a Hillbilly Meat Board: fried chicken feet, charred Spam, pickled pig feet and fried bologna.
It seems as though Babb, Clavir and Rogers have found something they feel is familiar yet individual enough to stand out. When done well, it's tough to beat a night out with hot tunes and cold beer.
"We believe in what we're doing and where we're doing it," Babb says. "We know that people will come here and enjoy a different kind of experience than they will anywhere else."
ChopShop Live opened on Thursday, July 5, and began offering live music on Friday, July 6. A concert by Wade Bowen, presented by Randy Rogers, is scheduled for Saturday, July 14 at ChopShop Live, 309 S. Oak St., Roanoke, Texas. chopshopsportsgarage.com.