Dining With Denise Neil

Story of Wichita couple’s six-days-a-week Texas Roadhouse habit travels around the world

It’s been a surreal couple of weeks for Ron and Diana Watson, the couple now known around the world for their love of Texas Roadhouse.

Since the story about the Watsons first appeared on the Wichita Eagle’s website Kansas.com on March 7, the couple — who has eaten at the west Wichita Texas Roadhouse six nights a week for the past 15 years — has been featured in stories all over the world and has been receiving near non-stop e-mails, messages and interview requests.

The most recent, they said, were from Sirius XM radio, who sent a reporter to interview the couple in Wichita on Monday afternoon, and from the Washington Post, which is working on a story that should appear soon.

The story also has been shared by a website for Southern Living, and by The Takeout, a food and pop culture website from the creators of The Onion. England’s Daily Mail UK and The The Mirror both shared the story, as did a German website — in German.

The story also was included over the weekend in a national e-mail newsletter called The Sunday Long Read, and it was shared on the national Texas Roadhouse Facebook page. It also has appeared on countless newspaper and radio station websites and on food blogs across the country.

It’s all been a little overwhelming for the couple, who started their dining tradition partially because they like simplicity and order. But it’s been fun, too, the Watsons said this week.

People who have seen the story have even stopped in to Diana’s job at Architectural Salvage just to talk to her. Ron is hearing from old friends he hasn’t talked to in 40 years.

“It’s surprising us because every time we turn around, people are coming up to us,” Diana Watson said. “Everybody is writing us or trying to get a hold of us.”

The frenzy also has been felt by Texas Roadhouse West’s managing partner, Kyle Hauber, who has been fielding questions from local customers since the story first was published.

He’s been getting calls from other Texas Roadhouse managers from across the country, and when he attended a Texas Roadhouse conference in Florida over the weekend, the restaurant chain’s founder approached him to talk about the Watsons.

“It’s probably one of the neatest things I’ve seen,” Hauber said. “I’ve talked to so many guests about it every night. And the thing that’s crazy is, it’s not going away. Every other day, another media outlet picks it up.”

The attention has caused only a few problems, Diana said.

Though most people who have read the story online have posted supportive comments, there has also been a group that has ridiculed or written negative things about the couple’s habit, which started in part because Ron, a Vietnam vet still dealing with PTSD, feels comfortable at his favorite booth at the restaurant, where he can see people coming and gong.

“The trolls can go back under the bridge,” Diana Watson said.

Also, we got a few details wrong in the first story about Diana’s order. Though her favorite meal to get at Texas Roadhouse is the Roadkill, she asks for it without onions, mushrooms or any seasonings. And for the record, she also likes and frequently orders the salmon, also with no butter and no seasoning.

But it’s all OK, Diana said, because she’s heard so many positive comments, too.

Her favorite thing has been seeing the story shared on veterans websites that have offered praise for Ron.

“That’s amazing to me,” she said. “I love it more than anything. That’s my hero. That’s my husband.”

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.