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Legendary Chili’s founder Larry Lavine opens new barbecue venture in Texas

Loop 9 BBQ in the Dallas-Forth Worth area anchors the budding restaurant row at Grand Prairie’s 172-acre EpicCentral development

When Larry Lavine founded Chili’s in 1975, the restaurant’s singular location was situated inside a converted post office on Dallas’ Greenville Avenue. Today, Chili’s is one of the most well-known names in the casual-dining industry, with more than 1,600 locations across the world.

Plenty of restauranteurs would have stopped there, content to watch the fruits of their labor grow. But Lavine shifted away from the mega-chain format to found Ten 50 BBQ in Richardson, Texas in 2014. Most recently, he turned his attention to a new concept called Loop 9 BBQ, which opened March 6 in Grand Prairie, Texas, as part of the massive EpicCentral entertainment development.

Loop 9 sits along the water in a sprawling space that can seat 100 people inside and another 125 outside on the patio. The latter is a perfect perch for guests to take in fountain shows and live music performances.

The city officials behind EpicCentral approached Lavine about bringing a barbecue joint to the area, hoping his pedigree could anchor the growing development’s restaurant presence. Its opening kicked off the first of many newcomers to restaurant row, including The Finch from Milkshake Concepts, which will soon be joined by other Milkshake brands like Vidorra and Serious Eats.

The development also houses Chicken N Pickle, the growing pickleball-restaurant hybrid with seven locations around the country, plus a water park and indoor rock climbing experience. There’s also a recreation center, performing arts venue and multiple lakes. Two hotels are expected to open by the end of the year. 

Loop 9 serves Lavine’s own recipes, with prime grade brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, sausage, and smoked turkey, plus sandwiches served on freshly baked brioche buns. Appetizers include queso and jalapeno poppers, and the menu of side dishes hits all the key notes of a classic Texas barbecue plate, including Mexican corn, borracho beans, fried okra, cornbread, potato salad, coleslaw, and fries.

Lavine’s wife Ann supplies the desserts, with options including banana cream pudding and key lime, coconut cream and chocolate cream pies. The restaurant has a separate pie shop, where customers can watch them being made, and order whole pies to take home. A full bar serves margaritas, house cocktails, craft beers, and wines.

In a state that’s rich with great barbecue, Lavine said that he’s more interested in nailing the classics than reinventing the wheel. To do that, Loop 9’s pitmasters slow-cook meat on two locally made J&R Oyler all-wood smokers, and the kitchen makes fresh sides every day.

Lavine has a track record for growing restaurants and said that Loop 9 BBQ will expand, but it’s too early for details. For now, interested diners can see what’s cooking in Grand Prairie.

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