Bronson Rock Burgers and Beer, as we’ve often noted, gets its name from biker slang: A “Bronson rock” is any unconventional tool used to repair a motorcycle. It comes from the late ’60s TV series “Then Came Bronson,” in which protagonist Jim Bronson used a rock to fix his bike.
It may not be using unconventional tools, but Bronson Rock itself is about to have a rebirth, re-opening Friday after being closed since October, and its owner is out to fix some things that were broken — and add some new features as well.
“It was bad management,” owner Richard McConathy said of why the popular Old Town Keller restaurant-bar closed in October. “Mistakes through the process. I was once an original owner. I got out a couple of years back, but when they thing went into bankruptcy, we purchased it through the bankruptcy courts.”
The bankruptcy filing came shortly before the restaurant closed, and McConathy completed his purchase in December. He had been planning to rescue the place all along.
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“I’m taking it back to the way it was originally supposed to be,” he says. “It was gonna be a live-music venue, destination place. We were going to base it around our kind of ‘most interesting man in the world’ character, Jim Bronson. The servers have got personality, attitude. It’s good food, good atmosphere, good drinks. We’re not corporate, but at the same time, we’re not mom and pop.”
Bronson Rock was known not just for its burgers, but for its large patio, its biker nights, and its lineup of tribute bands — which you could often hear throughout Old Town Keller — and local musicians. In the months before its closure, many musicians that performed there complained on social media about not being paid. McConathy says that under his ownership, that’s not going to happen.
“Our goal right now is, we’re having tribute bands — we’re having Good Question play on Friday night, we’ve got Incognito coming in soon, we’ve got Back in Black, he says. “And eventually, we’re going to try to really take Bronson Rock to the next level and try to get ourselves some of the well-known names from the ’80s and ’70s, early ’90s in here. The ultimate goal would be to try to get, you know, Motley Crue to come in here.”
If you think those sound like Gas Monkey Live-level dreams, McConathy says you’re correct.
“That’s our aspirations, to get to that level, but we’ve got to build ourselves back up to get to that level,” he says. “It’s kind of bringing a boat up from the bottom of the ocean. We’re bringing the Titanic back up.”
From the beginning, Bronson Rock has had a funky vibe that’s reminiscent of the original Fred’s Texas Cafe in Fort Worth, but McConathy says that he’d eventually like to combine that funky vibe with the destination vibe of the Rustic, the Dallas restaurant/bar known for its huge patio known as “The Backyard.” Bronson Rock’s patio is large — but it’s not college-baseball-outfield large, like the Rustic’s.
“We’re going to be adding some patio space in the summer,” McConathy says. “Up in the front of the building we’re going to do an entire covered area where our bike parking currently is. We’ll add some bathrooms out there. On the other side, where it was our first parking lot, we’re going to be covering that as well for bike parking. We’re going to do something like Strokers has where we’ll have ... tabletops so the bikers can have their bikes out there and we’ll do outdoor service.”
The menu will have familiar burgers like the Bronson (a bacon-cheeseburger with smokey barbecue sauce), the “Pig sleeping on a Rock” (another bacon-cheeseburger, but with four slices of bacon) and a chicken sandwich called the Yardbird. There is also the Fat Elvis, which doesn’t have peanut butter or banana but does have two slices of ham and a fried egg topping the patty in addition to the bacon and cheese.
But there are also such items as “Bag o’ Rags With Buck o’ Cheese” (chips with loaded queso), “The Octopussy” (fried calamari) and “Road Kill Chili” made with venison (“cooked right off the manifold,” the menu says).
It’s no coincidence that the restaurant is reopening on St. Patrick’s Day.
“We looked at the calendar, saw Daylight Saving Time’s changed, and it’s a day where people like to go out and have a good time,” McConathy says. “I’ve got Irish blood in me, so there’s no better day to get that going.”
McConathy says that he’ll be mostly behind the scenes; his cousin Jaysun Allen will be the honcho manager. And the restaurant will retain its Bronson Rock attitude.
“There’s been rumors going around that we’re going to be ‘PG-13’,” he says. “Well, we are going to be family-friendly and Keller-centric during the daytime, but at night, after 9:30, it’ll be 21 and up and it’s going to be basically Bronson Rock. We’re going to run it a little more strict, and we’re going to run a tighter ship here.”
Bronson Rock is at 250 S. Main St. (U.S. 377) in Keller.