SAN BENITO — The Longhorn Cattle Company has a history of making enjoyable barbecue but also, creating an enjoyable environment. Lisa Turner, co-owner, lived up to serve, entertain and help others.
Lisa passed away Sunday, April 5, but her family and friends continue to remember her and her legacy, today.
She was born in Houston in June 1962 and moved to the Rio Grande Valley in junior high. She grew up living and riding her pony on the property that the restaurant now stands on, said her husband Bill Turner.
The couple met on a blind date in Corpus Christi. Lisa married Bill in 1987 and hosted their reception in the barn at the Longhorn Cattle Company.
That year they moved to the Valley and began operating the Longhorn Cattle Company BBQ restaurant, which has become a staple in San Benito.
“Lisa had a passion for the restaurant industry that was unrelenting. From singing jingles with the Mesquite Bean Band on KTEX radio, The best beans you’ll ever eat, served to you when we first meet, Bovine Bingo, in the back pasture of the restaurant, cooking on Tim’s Terrace and being featured on The Texas Bucket List,” Bill said.
Her husband described her as an animal lover and someone with a kind heart.
“Lisa had a passion for horses, longhorn cattle, dolphins and basically any living, breathing creature in this universe.
She could just as easily bring home a stranger though she never met one or a stray animal, it did not matter to her as long as they were fed, clothed and safe,” he said.
But Lisa’s husband is not the only one who remembers her acts of kindness with fondness. Lisa touched the lives of many.
“Countless folks have testified to many small acts of kindness offered to them by Lisa that impacted their lives in ways that Lisa never knew,” Bill said.
Mike Folk, a high school friend of Lisa’s, said he remembered many times when she expressed her kindness toward him.
“When my girlfriend died we had a funeral at the restaurant. Lisa provided all the food for free and just asked me to make sure the server was tipped,” he said.
In a Facebook post, competitor Smoke Texas BBQ and Watering Hole in Harlingen, expressed sadness over Lisa’s passing and shared a message she sent the restaurant when it opened.
“We were very saddened to hear of Lisa’s passing. She was the epitome of class. When we opened in 2018 we were quite overwhelmed with the initial demand and high expectations of our full-service restaurant,” the post read.
A screenshot showed a message by Lisa saying she wished the restaurant success and to reach out whenever staff would need anything.
“In the midst of all the challenges we received this message from Lisa. A direct competitor, who most would expect to be indifferent to our struggles. As we stated in our reply, we hope to be as successful as Lisa someday and we will always have a special place in our hearts for her. Godspeed Lisa…,” the post ended with.
She and Bill had one daughter, Kaylee, who described her mother as bigger than life.
“She just outgrew this earth. We will never know a more selfless bright light who could have us bent over laughing even in her most challenging moments,” she said.
She and her father agreed Lisa and the restaurant embodied hospitality. Longhorn Cattle Company has held many celebrations and memories over the years to which Kaylee said has made it a nostalgic place.
“She made everyone feel like family and never met a stranger. Besides great barbecue, true hospitality is why people keep coming back, it feels like home,” Kaylee said.
For her father, Lisa’s energy continues to make the Longhorn Cattle Company BBQ an institution in South Texas BBQ.
“She created a place for people to gather with friends and family that makes memories that last a lifetime and beyond. Lisa gave all folks that she encountered a piece of herself to take with them on their journey,” he said.