Thursday, January 14, 2010

Having Turkey Sausage At Billy Inman’s Place

Billy Inman
When I pulled up in front of Inman’s Ranch House in Marble Falls, and saw all the pickup trucks, I suspected I was on to something very good. Workers don’t waste their time or money on food which doesn’t deliver, and Inman’s has been around since 1964. Nevertheless, I was a little hesitant as I approached the old wood and screen entry door. Even though it was the only entrance I could see, it felt like I was entering someone’s private home, and with good reason.

Despite the fact that the owner, Billy Inman, doesn’t actually live in the place anymore, the building is, indeed, an old house. And, although I was a stranger, I was warmly greeted the minute I opened the door from a voice somewhere in the back of the place. I walked past two small rooms filled with a couple of tables and chairs (just like you’d see in a million homes across the country) to the friendly voice which had welcomed me. In the kitchen of this "house," I found Billy.

Billy Inman has a big smile and an engaging personality which only adds to the wonderful experience of his somewhat unique eatery. The man in line ahead of me asked Billy how he was doing, and Billy quickly replied, “If I was doing any better, I’d be fishing.” You really have to admire somebody like that. He’s got life all figured out, and he knows it.

The Inman family food story is well-known around these parts, so I won’t repeat it here in great detail, except to say that the Inman family got things going making turkey sausage in Llano, Texas in the early 1960's, with one of the Inman brothers eventually opening a place in Marble Falls in 1964. That brother was the father of Billy, and like any dutiful son, Billy learned the business at his father’s side.

Texas Hill Country foods are not well-known for turkey, perhaps, but the Inman family has perfected the art of making sausage from turkey, and the result is unbelievably good. The sausage, along with the homemade sauce, slaw, and bean offering, is made from scratch. This is down home food in a down home place at a very inexpensive price. And, although many hill country barbecue joints cook their food with mesquite, Billy is a big fan of oak, and his choice of wood produces an excellent result. He obviously knows what he’s doing.

Eating in the small and laid-back atmosphere in either one of his two “dining rooms,” you feel like a family guest invited over for lunch. Sitting among Billy’s regulars, you hear every word of every conversation, and it doesn’t take long before you know what’s going on in the town that day.

Turkey Sausage and all the Fixin's
Locally owned family restaurants are an important part of American history, and, unfortunately, they are quickly disappearing. Fortunately, however, for residents of the hill country, Billy Inman’s place is still around. And, just like the friendly greeting which I received when I entered, I got a nice good-bye and thanks when I left, just like you would expect to get as you depart someone’s personal residence. Given the character of the place, and the way he treats his guests, Billy must view the restaurant as an extension of his own home. And, that makes all the difference in the world, or, as the sign hanging on his kitchen wall states, "On Earth As It Is In Texas."

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