Sixty years ago, Bob Luby had a dream. As a young man in his early twenties, he had a vision to develop a chain of cafeterias that would provide good .. read morefood, good service and reasonable prices.
Bob's vision was a product of his upbringing. In 1911, the year before Bob was born, his father, Harry Luby, started the New England Dairy Lunch cafeteria in Springfield, Missouri. Eventually, Harry's small cafeteria business grew to include restaurants in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. By 1927, at the age of 39, Harry Luby retired from active management. Bob, who had grown up in the business and loved it, was determined to enhance his father's principles and work ethic with his own new ideas and passion for serving top quality food in a welcoming atmosphere.
In 1947, Bob returned to Texas from his World War II service as an intelligence officer stationed in California. Determined and driven, Bob joined forces with his cousin Charles R. Johnston, and together they opened the first Luby's Cafeteria in San Antonio. It was thought to be an extremely risky venture since downtown San Antonio was deserted at night, and many people doubted that servicemen just home from the war would accept standing in line for anything again. The skeptics were wrong - the 180-seat cafeteria was packed for both lunch and dinner.
And so the Luby's Cafeteria chain began. Over the next 11 years, Luby and Johnston continued to open new restaurants in Tyler, Harlingen, El Paso and Beaumont. An interesting challenge of their early expansion was not the availability of capital or land, but rather, the accessibility of well-trained managers capable of maintaining Luby's uncompromisingly high-quality standards.
In 1959, with nine cafeterias in various locations, the San Antonio-based company incorporated under the name Cafeterias, Inc. It became a publicly held corporation in 1973, then changed its name in 1981 to Luby's Cafeterias, Inc. and joined the New York Stock Exchange the following year. In 1987, 40 years after its founding, Luby's reached a milestone when its 100th cafeteria opened in Round Rock, Texas.
In 2001, two of America's most successful restaurateurs, Chris and Harris Pappas of Houston, joined the Luby's management team, continuing the company's commitment to high standards of excellence. The Pappas brothers each brought 30 years of restaurant experience to the organization, which included Harris' own experience working for Luby's as a young man in the early 1970s.
For 60 years, Luby's has forged a unique relationship with its customers. The emotional connection Luby's has with its diners is unlike any other restaurant company in America. Luby's success is due, in part, to consistently serving good food at reasonable prices. Another and no less important ingredient to that success is the understanding that meals can provide more than just nourishment. They can be memorable times that add warmth and meaning to all of our lives.
Bob Luby's vision remains strong and continues to guide the company today, so future generations can create their own special Luby's memories.