Eight miles south of Archer City on the now abandoned Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad Company line was the town of Anarene, also now abandoned. According to Trails Through Archer, Jack Loftin’s history of Archer County, in 1929 the town, a shipping point for cattle, consisted of a store, schoolhouse, post office, blacksmith shop, filling station, and a two-story hotel. Anarene was also used as the town name in Larry McMurtry’s series of novels that spawned the Academy Award winning movie, “The Last Picture Show” in 1971. Anarene will get a new lease on life with the Anarene Catering Co. launch party scheduled for Wednesday August 28 at a park site being prepared as the catering companies home base at 305 N. Sycamore in Archer City.
The newly retrofitted mobile kitchen food truck for Anarene Catering Co. arrived in Archer City last Thursday. Work on the catering headquarters and park on N. Sycamore has been ongoing for the past few weeks. The food truck will serve as the principle food production kitchen. The company will focus on full service catering out of the food truck but will expand to a permanent catering home at the welding shop on Sycamore.
Anarene Catering Co. is a limited liability corporation, composed of partners, Chef Juston Liles, his wife Rachel, Mickey Mayo, his wife Amy, and Juston’s mother Greta Liles of Throckmorton. Chef Liles explained the business model this way, “Amy will drive the business to Rachel, who can get the events scheduled, and then I will perform the cooking and production of the food. Mickey will handle any kind of set up or breakdown we have to do.”
Chef Liles attended the Culinary School at The Art Institute of Houston before serving as sous chef at Brennan’s, one of America’s premier dining destinations. After working with other prestigious chefs across the country, he served as chef at country clubs before acquiring Pasqual Restaurant in Wichita Falls. He explained the reason for the new venture, “I’ve been wanting to get back in the restaurant business, cooking especially, and the opportunity arose with the right pieces falling in place. The food truck was a good option. We’re hoping people will come and enjoy it. We want to see the community involved.”
In addition to full service catering and an occasional Pop-up restaurant location, the food truck will be at the new park on Sycamore Thursday through Saturday offering meatloaf sliders, different flavors of chicken wings, homemade French fries, fresh salads, sandwiches, and desserts. The menu items in the park will be from $8-$12. The August 28 launch party will give people a chance to get a glimpse of what is planned at the park. Liles elaborated on the goal at the park, “Nothing set in stone yet, but we plan regular hours with music, games, live music on occasion, we’re hoping to do a couple of concerts a month. We will have washers, horseshoes, and family games.” He went on to say, “With the park part of Anarene Catering Co. actually we have had more of a goal of incorporating activities for the kids. Having events for them there after sporting events; things like that. The park is for the community. We hope it will be well received.”
The partners in the catering company plan to eventually name the park. They will be listening for suggestions at the launch party. The launch party at the park on August 28 will have family games, a family event featuring Anarene Catering Co. food and tours of the park. The park is located one block east of Center Street at the corner of E. Elm and N. Sycamore.
The outside catering operation will have several aspects. Outside the park for catering will start at about $20-$25 a head with the ability to customize ingredients and menus to the taste and price point the customer desires. Liles outlined his catering philosophy, “I try to gear my food to the person wanting to do an event. My goal is to sit down with you ask you what your objectives and goals are, your price point, and your taste. We will customize an agenda and menu.”
The catering operation will also feature delivery of meals to Wichita Falls, soup of the month club, and meal prep club. Anarene Catering Co. will have a delivery car to handle called in orders. People can call in, the food will be prepared and packaged for delivery or pickup. Liles explained his approach, “I’ll try to use the freshest ingredients I can get, prepare it with classic proven techniques we used in culinary school and provide a quality product again and again. Let people get what they pay for, and maybe that will keep the business strong. I was real fortunate in the fact that I had the restaurant in Wichita. I have a good following from that.”
One of the other dimension will be a Pop-up restaurant. A Pop-up restaurant is a temporary restaurant in a space to accommodate diners during a festival or for a brief time. Anarene Catering Co. will look to capitalize on this new restaurant craze. Liles said, “We’re going to do Pop-up restaurant a couple of times before the end of the year in Wichita close to Kemp and Kell. An air conditioned location has been secured. The kitchen will be the truck, but it will be a restaurant. The Pop-up restaurant thing is getting bigger and bigger, like at the Colonial Golf Tournament, the best chefs around are setting up a tent, renting the equipment, hooking it up to propane and serving delicious food.”
Anarene Catering Co. may not have a store or hotel; it may not be the location of an Academy Award winning movie, but it does have 5 creative, talented, and determined partners ready to bring Anarene Catering Co. to life as the premier catering company in North Texas based right here in Archer City. The community gets an added bonus as the home base for the catering company will double as a food and entertainment park venue right here in Archer City.