That same year, trying to help out a friend who badly needed a job, I bought a string of livery horses at Hueco Tanks, which he rented to the public. Hueco Tanks was then still owned by the county of El Paso and I remember that I paid 10% in rent to the Tigua Indians every month.
In the fall of 1968, the county gave Hueco Tanks to the state of Texas and it became a state park. I needed a new home for the horses and that’s how I wound up here at the Indian Cliffs, which gave the ranch it’s name.
In the 1800’s the entire area along the Rio Grande Valley was home to many Indians who made their living hunting and gathering. The “desert” looked different in those days. The old rancher who sold me a lot of the land once told me, “You know, I remember this well. You could ride on horseback all over this country and the grass would come up to your belt.” To this day, Indian campsites, fire pits and piles of pottery chards are found all over the ranch. Indian campsites were especially frequent in the Dakota-style badland bluffs, which the locals call Indian Cliffs.
The San Antonio stagecoach route crosses the ranch just a mile and a half south of the Steakhouse and there was an adobe stagecoach stop at San Felipe Park. Butterfield stagecoaches also used the route for a short while as the Southern Route. The cornerstone for our first building here, now the “Cantina” party facility, was laid in April of 1969. We had no water and no electricity in those days, just open land as far as you can see. The horse rental business grew and it became obvious that we needed a small place for our customers to be able to eat. So I started the restaurant building in 1972 and we opened in May of 1973.
Since I was still in the shipping business, I leased the restaurant for the first year and half. The Ranch Room was our dining area with some 50 seats, the Saddle Room was the bar and the present bar was the ranch office. Differences in regard to food quality and service forced me to take the restaurant operations over myself.
Over the years, the Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch grew and grew. Waiting lines were just too long and I decided to add on. In the summer of 1978, we built the Garden Room and Greenhouse with some 180 seats in exactly 4 weeks...and we are still growing, thanks to our customers.
My promise to you is:
“Good Food! at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must. But always Good Food!”
I still buy every pound of beef every week myself and I personally see to it that our managers and employees never forget who makes the paycheck happen here: YOU, the customer.
When you get here, look around. Many of these young people work their way through college here. A chance they may never have had otherwise. We are here for you and we mean that sincerely.
Thank you for stopping by today and we invite you to be our guest at Indian Cliffs Ranch.
Dieter Gerzymisch, Owner