When adversity comes your way, you can either give up or rise to the challenge.
For restaurants, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the challenge of a lifetime that many have not been able to ride out. But the Turkey Leg Hut in Houston has not just survived, it has thrived. Not only that, the world-famous family-owned business has been giving back, helping others in need.
This Christmas saw the founders Lynn and Nakia Price give away 500 of their mouth-watering smoked turkey legs to people in their local Third Ward district and fresh meat to stock up their freezers and cash. This adds to the 10,000 or so turkey legs they have already given out at their regular Thanksgiving and other community events.
“My life has changed tremendously since starting the Turkey Leg Hut in ways that I couldn’t even begin to imagine,” says Lynn. “This opportunity has allowed me to return home and give to the people who have poured into my family and me.”
The Turkey Leg Hut began as a rodeo food stall in 2015, but the Prices’ passion for food, flavor, and quality quickly saw them expand to a fully-fledged restaurant. Since then, the turkey legs have gained social media fame and even made some celebrity fans (Dave Chappelle, Flo Rider, and Roland Martin are regular customers).
And although plans to further expand the business to a location at the Bush Intercontinental Airport have been delayed by the pandemic, the restaurant is still flourishing with over 25,000 customers per week.
Lynn attributes this resilience to his willingness to take action and try new things.
“COVID has truly separated those who say they can from those who go out and get it done. While so many companies were shutting down, we were blessed with innovative ways to pull through this pandemic and give it our best.”
This has included making the most of the restaurant’s outdoor set-up to meet social distancing requirements, creating a Daiquiri Hut for customers who want to celebrate a special occasion, and pop-up food trucks to bring the Prices’ in-demand dishes beyond Houston.
So what’s the secret to the Turkey Leg Hut’s success? Apart from the recipes themselves, which are closely guarded combinations of Southern, Creole, and Cajun influences, the real secret is Lynn and Nakia Price themselves.
They know what good food is and work hard to provide an excellent experience for customers, not just with the food they serve but with the environment they create. So it’s a very hands-on operation for them.
The owners are regularly out front greeting people, and the atmosphere is lively with a neighborhood vibe – many patrons are known by name.
Lynn’s other advice to upcoming restaurant entrepreneurs is to find your niche and then work to expand it.
“Stay true to what you are,” he says, referring to his continued focus on the smoked turkey legs that brought him his initial success in the rodeo car park. “Be original and hustle hard. Late nights and early mornings get the job done.”
And with the end of the pandemic in sight, we asked Lynn, what’s next for the Turkey Leg Hut?
“The expansion of the current location with the Daiquiri Hut, and we will continue with pop-ups, so be on the lookout for a city near you!”
Just be sure to get in line early – the most recent Dallas pop-up saw some devoted foodies line up for 12 hours to taste that falling-off-the-bone smoked turkey.