The West Bar and Grill, one of the oldest gathering places in Beaumont

The West Bar and Grill, one of the oldest gathering places in Beaumont

When personable Shannon Wilson went to work for The West Bar and Grill a decade and a half ago, he had no idea that he would one day own the place or that he would make such good lifetime friends from among the customers he came to know well. At that time, Allen and Debbie Peltier owned the bar and grill, and when they decided to sell, Shannon was given the first opportunity to buy the established business on Beaumont’s west side.

“I was happy here, enjoyed what I did, and saw no reason not to continue,” said Wilson. “Bonnie and I have been blessed and have made a good business even better, in our opinion.” It seems as if the customers we spoke with agree with Wilson.

One said, “It is like family here. Any time I come in, there will be someone I know, whether it is an employee, the owner, or other customers. Lisa (Myers) has been serving me for nearly 20 years,” he said. This customer also let me know that Lisa is correctly called Lisa-Lisa, a habit that was born more than 27 years ago when she worked for the original restaurant. Lisa-Lisa was employed by the original owners for 17 years and has worked steadily at The West now for an additional 10 years. She knows almost everyone that comes in, and they know her.

Our party of three went to The West for a late lunch and was surprised at the quality of the food served piping hot and very quickly. Our out-of-town guest had a Texas staple, chicken-fried steak, and went on and on gushing over how good the meal was. She also had roasted corn and mashed potatoes. Formerly from Texas, she exclaimed rather loudly, “I have come home again. No one makes chicken-fried steak like a Texan does.” And she is a member of the clean-your-plate club. She ate every bite of the steak and vegetables and all of the gravy. A nice, crisp side salad was served with the steak plate.

My husband ordered one of his favorites, chicken quesadillas, and was pleased at the quantity and quality of the food he was served. Guacamole and sour cream were served on the side and he had plenty of chicken. I ordered Lisa-Lisa’s suggestion, the bacon patty melt and home-fried onion rings, both of which were delicious. The added bacon gave a patty melt an entirely new twist and the flavors blended nicely, but the onion rings were the hit of our table. I was forced to share with my other two table partners.

Our drinks were refilled often and without our asking, and the other customers who had come in for lunch seemed to all enjoy their selections.

The West also always has music after the crawfish specials on Wednesday night and offers drink specials including $1.50 beer.

Both Wilson and Lisa-Lisa said that many customers do not realize when they first come in that The West really does offer a full service food menu. “We’ve had folks come in for months, and one day, act as if they’ve discovered something brand new, but we have been serving good food right along,” said the talented server. The West Bar Bites include boudain balls, crab stuffed jalapenos, Southwest egg rolls, cheese sticks, Cajun empanadas, potato boats, X-rated fries, chips and queso, onion rings (to die for), chicken strips, buffalo wings, fried mushrooms, and more. There is also a large selection of salads for those who choose to eat lightly. Customers have many choices among the burgers and sandwiches and a good South of the Border menu, as well.

West specialties include the famed shrimp basket, grilled mahi mahi, smothered chicken, grilled shrimp, hamburger steak, grilled chicken platter, chicken-fried steak, rib-eye steaks, and a teriyaki chicken platter. A complete beer and wine menu, plus a fully stocked bar await the customers. Wilson says that some of the most fun he has is making special drinks requested by the customer. “Oh, some of them know what they want. If they can describe it to me, I can make it, and we’ll keep on making them until we get it just perfect,” said the owner.

One side of the bar is devoted to a large game room with pool, ping-pong and other games that the customers enjoy. Another new addition that caught my eye is a fancy jukebox filled with digital recordings. Wilson said that one of the customers surprised him the other night when he said, “Watch this.” And, he pushed buttons on his new cell phone, chose songs at the table on the new jukebox, and viola, the music played. The customer explained that a new app had been developed to program the jukebox and play your favorites from any location in the room (as long as you have that app on your phone).

Wilson and his wife, Bonnie, have two children, now grown, who will likely end up in the bar business along with their parents. Wilson said when he does take time away from The West; he enjoys a good game of golf and fishing. “We plan special events all of the time and our big Super Bowl parties, seasonal gigs, birthdays, corporate groups, and other gatherings keep us hopping, but we are happy to have the opportunity to serve our customers.”

The West Bar and Grill is at 6445 Calder in Beaumont’s West End. The hours of operation for the bar are 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. daily, and the kitchen is open for service Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can call (409) 866-4733 for additional information or plan to drop in for a visit soon. You’ll enjoy your time spent at The West and chances are, you will make a new friend or two.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.