Politicians to city officials to people who love a good meal gathered today to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Little Red Barn, which has become one of the city's most recognizable restaurants.


  The interstate highways which roar past the front door weren't built yet when Ralph Hernandez and his wife Lili opened the restaurant in an old meat market southeast of downtown.


  "I've been coming here, pretty much my entire life," said County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who grew up not far from the Hackberry Street location.


  "Ralph had the gracious hospitality that was the glue that kept people coming back, in addition to great food quickly served."


  Adkisson and other fans of the Little Red Barn pointed out its unique eccentricities, from the waitresses dressed as cowgirls to cattle brands on the wall to the picnic tables and the menu on the walls.


  Adkisson told of holding political strategy sessions at the Little Red Barn with local politicians like the late Frank Madla and Frank Tejeda.


  Many discussed how amazing it is that any restaurant can remain open for fifty years, among changing tastes and the emergence of fast food.


  Hernandez died in 2010, but his family continues to operate the Little Red Barn.