Photos by Shannon Richardson

The Western Horseman Club

In the 1980s, The Western Horseman Club was one of the hottest country-and-western bars in the city, located in the La Kiva Hotel west of AQHA on Interstate 40. The three-story hotel and its unique atrium had declined in the decades since, until new ownership and a revitalization of the hotel as the Cactus Cove Inn & Suites. 

Now, prominent local chef Rory Schepisi has taken on the task of breathing new life into The Western Horseman Club. 

It’s part of her own history. A New Jersey native, Schepisi arrived in Amarillo in 2005 as a contestant on the CMT show Popularity Contest, filmed in Vega. She fell in love with the Panhandle and has remained here ever since. The original Western Horseman Club was one of the first places she visited in Amarillo. “I heard country music and I came up to this wooden door in a hotel lobby. I walked in and saw cowboy hats, people sliding across the dance floor—I’d never seen anyone two-step. It was such a magical experience that first time walking through those doors.”

She was saddened to watch the bar and restaurant fall into obscurity, and when the opportunity arose, jumped at the chance to breathe new life into it. “I want it to be a place where people 30 and up can come have dinner, watch a show, hear a band. Amarillo doesn’t have a supper club. We’re trying to bring it back,” she says. 

The bar is open already, Wednesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant will launch in mid-January, and Schepisi has transformed the once-dingy, sprawling space with a swanky, modern-saloon vibe. The restaurateur says she was inspired by Gary Stewart’s song “Cactus and a Rose,” about a cowboy and city girl coming together. The new space pairs elegance and beauty with a little western grit.

The menu will be a little more western-focused than Drunken Oyster and Savor, her other upscale restaurants, with price points below Drunken Oyster’s. Options include Angus Beef burgers and sandwiches, Prime Certified Angus Beef steaks, chicken-fried steak, catfish and more. For Brick & Elm, Schepisi served a tomahawk steak with maple-bacon Brussels sprouts. mac-and-cheese, and a smoking rosemary sprig, plus Akaushi Beef sliders sourced from a local rancher. 

Another draw is the bar, which stocks 135 different types of bourbon and scotch—including extraordinarily rare, highly coveted options like 12-year Pappy Van Winkle, the 26-year-old Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series, and Whistlepig Boss Hog X “The Ten Commandments” Straight Rye. Schepisi says she’s amassing the largest restaurant whiskey selection in the Panhandle.

“It’s not your momma’s Western Horseman Club anymore,” she says, laughing.

2501 I-40 East