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NEW BIZ: Hooper’s restaurant owners pay homage to horror heritage

Hooper's restaurant in Kingsland, Texas

Grand Central Cafe in Kingsland is now Hooper’s. The new owners are paying homage to the restaurant's horror film past by naming it after Tobe Hooper, director of the cult classic 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre.' Renovations are underway on the building, which was the main setting in the 1974 film. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Grand Central Cafe in Kingsland is now Hooper’s. The restaurant’s new owners are embracing its horror film credits with the name change.

Fans of the 1974 cult classic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” will recognize it as the main setting and home of Leatherface, the movie’s terrifying antagonist. Years later, the house was moved to Kingsland from Round Rock and, in 2012, became Grand Central Cafe. 

It’s namesake, the late, acclaimed horror director Tobe Hooper, a Texas native, kicked off the “Chain Saw Massacre” franchise and also directed the 1982 hit “Poltergeist.”

“We think it’s a brilliant name for what the house is,” said Simon Madera, one of the new owners. “Tobe Hooper made that house famous, and it would be ridiculous for us to not pay homage to him as a director.”

Leatherface at Hooper's restaurant in Kingsland, Texas
Patrons enjoy their meals in the bar in the newly renamed Hooper’s restaurant despite the presence of Leatherface, the terrifying antagonist of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ film franchise. The restaurant was the infamous house in the original movie. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Madera purchased the restaurant and nearby Antlers Inn with wife Hobie Sasser and good friends Courtney and Mike Rhodes. 

Renovations and utility upgrades are underway, but the business at 1010 King Court is open. The owners merged the restaurant with the once-separate Club Car Bar into one business. A temporary pop-up menu is available and drinks are still being served from the bar during construction. Indoor seating is available.

Madera will be the hands-on operator of Hooper’s and The Antlers Inn. He is an avid restauranteur responsible for the Taco Flats restaurant chain. Business partner Mike Rhodes has a background in high-end architecture and construction.

“We feel great about it,” Madera said. “We feel really good about the direction we’ve taken, the name we’ve chosen, and the layers of food we’re adding.”

Currently, the restaurant is serving food from the Taco Flats menu out of a trailer on site, but a Hooper’s-specific lineup is in the works and will be implemented once the interior kitchens are finished.

No specifics on the nature of the new menu have been released, but Madera alluded to approachable Southern cuisine in an interview with

Former Club Car Bar owners Sandy and Brad Jones are still managing the bar portion of Hooper’s while renovations take place. Much of the staff from Grand Central Cafe and the bar are still on board. 

“We’re looking to build a strong local team that can handle the workload and execute the quality that we are accustomed to,” Madera said.

Another aspect of Hooper’s is the coffee shop and bakery, formerly Kingsland Coffee, which is attached to The Antlers Inn, just a short walk from the main restaurant. The coffee shop is in operation, serving fresh-baked pastries daily.

The new owners project a full opening by March with various stages unveiled as work is completed and plans come to fruition.

Hooper’s is open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and Sunday and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday.