Rodeo Goat: The people’s champ

Posted 9:36am on Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015

The Goat stands alone.

After a final face-off with Fred’s Texas Cafe, a Fort Worth icon and favorite located mere steps away in the bustling West 7th area, Rodeo Goat emerged victorious in the 2015 Battle of the Burgers readers’ bracket.

The final pitted two of Cowtown’s most decorated burger joints, and fans of each worked hard to bring home the victory. More than 5,000 votes were cast in the last round. (Over the course of the five-week readers’ bracket, more than 55,000 total votes were cast.)

According to Rodeo Goat general manager Landon Amis, the restaurant’s winning strategy was simple: harness the passion of its many devoted admirers.

“We’ve got a pretty faithful fan base — I’d probably stop short of calling it ‘cultish,’ ” Amis says. “I’ve never seen people’s reaction to food, in all my years in the industry, as great as it is to eating Rodeo Goat food.”

The Goat also spread the word through email blasts and its active social media channels. Since adding a second location in Dallas’ revitalized Design District in January, Rodeo Goat’s Twitter followers have grown to more than 2,500, and on Facebook it has more than 10,000 fans.

Visitors to both North Texas locations are die-hard appreciators of Rodeo Goat’s roster of gourmet burgers that include everything from blackberry compote (Whiskey Burger), to chorizo and avocado (Chaca Oaxaca), to green chile chutney (the Telluride).

And while Rodeo Goat was knocked out in the Final Four round of the judges’ bracket this year, losing to Salsa Fuego, it does have singular status among its battle brethren: To date, it’s the only restaurant to win both the judges’ bracket (in 2013) and the readers’ bracket.

Beyond the burger battle, Rodeo Goat is no stranger to the power of the ballot.

From early on at its Fort Worth location, customers have been able to vote between two specialty burgers, situated at the top of the menu, with the winner hanging around and potentially earning a spot in the permanent rotation. (Fair warning: Amis says this is the last week for the beloved Chupacabra burger, as the supply of Hatch chiles used to make it is running out.)

“When we first started doing specials,” Amis says, “it was, ‘Hey, here’s a burger — it’s here for a couple weeks, and then it’s gone.’ People would get up in arms. … How do we handle this limited-time run? The battle was the solution to that. The guest gets the chance to keep their favorite in-house.”

Asked whether Rodeo Goat has any plans to expand its mini empire beyond the two locations, and Amis demurs: “[Owner] Shannon Wynne and his crack team up there, they’ve certainly got plans on doing more,” he says. “[But] what and when and where I’m not privy to.”

For now, Rodeo Goat will be content to bask in its victory, and as Amis puts it, keep cranking out the same scratch-made “artisanal” burgers that have won the restaurant the title of people’s champion.

“Rodeo Goat is a different sort of experience when it comes to eating a burger,” Amis says. “It’s just chock-full of flavors. Where some other burgers stop when it comes to flavor, we didn’t stop.”

And our readers like the taste of that.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones

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