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Centralia Texas Red’s under new ownership

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 3:51 pm

One of Centralia’s barbecue mainstays is settling in to new ownership.

Started by Dean and Donna Sharp, six years ago, Texas Red’s has provided soul-satisfying and stomach-filling barbecue, smoked and grilled meats and sides to all comers, from its little campus at the intersection of Highway 22 and Howard Burton Drive.

The business went from the Sharps, to another owner, then back to the Sharps, and by the time the sauce had settled, long-time Texas Red’s employee

Wanda, “Katy” Gruender with Texas Reds burgers and pies

Wanda, “Katy” Gruender emerged as the businesses’ new owner, with her partner Jody Dye.

“I love people and I love to cook,” Gruender said when asked why she chose this culinary career. “I’ve worked here at least five years and when you get right down to it, I did not want to see Texas Red’s close.”

She took over the business in August.

Texas Red’s was not her first restaurant.

In fact, one could say it was in her blood.

When the restaurant formerly at the junction of Highways 22 and 63 was on the north side of the intersection, Gruender’s mother, Eunice Long, cooked there.

After Long moved on to cook at the University of Missouri and the restaurant moved to the south side of 22, Gruender cooked there.

But there was a whole lot of living in between.

The mother of three, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of one, was a hair-dresser for 30 years.

As a youngster, she said Long was the person she most looked up to and wanted to be a hair-dresser when she grew up.

And she was, including having her own hair salon in Sturgeon.

“I’d still be doing it,” she said, lifting her hazel eyes up from the catering bids she was working on while sitting at the big north window at Texas Red’s. “But I got arthritis in my hands and couldn’t work the scissors anymore.”

She gets her cooking skills from her mother, Gruender said, especially the baking. That is not surprising given her mother’s home-made biscuits and pies were Gruender’s favorites growing up. For the full story see Centralia Fireside Guard