On a recent trip to Lubbock, I had the pleasure of dining at two establishments where the owners made it clear – they’re not just serving breakfast: they’re serving God.
Cast Iron Grill, a Lubbock institution where everyone orders the pie for breakfast because it’s so good it sells out by noon, is owned and operated by Teresa Stephens. Stephens has created an entire room in the restaurant she calls the Faith Room. The walls are lined with crosses of all shapes and sizes, inspirational quotes, and Bible verses, all symbolizing Stephens’ forthright devotion to her Christian beliefs.
It’s an admirable display, especially in 2022 when so many are afraid to profess their beliefs for fear of being “cancelled” in our world of cancel culture. But Stephens makes no apologies for her demonstration of faith within the business world. While she’s worked hard to find success in the restaurant business, she knows that prayer and God’s grace brought her to this place.
“In the first five years in the restaurant business, most people fail, and I didn’t want to be a statistic,” she says. “I was nearly there. Every piece of equipment had broken down, I was broke, and I was crying every day on the way to work. One morning, I had K-LOVE, a Christian radio station, playing in the car. The DJ posed a question I’ll never forget: ‘Is it the great recession, or is the recession going to make you great?’”
Stephens says that right there and then, she committed to having faith. “I didn’t know how or when things were going to turn around, but I prayed and got my family praying, and a year later, people were flowing back in. When I expanded, I added the Faith Room to honor the fact that this was all built on faith. Then, when we moved to our current location 10 ½ years ago, I intentionally created a new Faith Room to carry that forward.”
While the food at Cast Iron Grill is delicious – hearty breakfasts, strong coffee, and a downhome, relaxed atmosphere are staples here – the pie is legendary. In the packed restaurant, it’s not uncommon for half the guests to order pie for breakfast. And with an entire menu dedicated to pies of all flavors, including classic favorites like pecan, coconut cream, and chocolate mousse, and creative concoctions such as buckeye and strawberry fluff, customers have plenty to choose from.
Interestingly, the first pie created for the restaurant is still the best-selling. “Blueberry banana split pie is number one,” said Stephens. “I’m a big believer that people eat with their eyes first, and that one is just so pretty and delicious.”
Another team of believers – in God and in beautiful food – is the powerhouse duo behind Betenbough Homes and now Ninety-Two Bakery and Café. Father Rick and son Ron Betenbough started up their homebuilding business in 1992, and when they decided to move into the world of coffee and croissants, they named their new café after the year they got their start.
Ninety-Two opened its doors in September, 2021, and is inspired by the family’s love of travel and coffee. More importantly, though, it is inspired by their love of God, as evidenced by their mission statement: “To reveal God and His Kingdom though our work in the marketplace.”
The French Bistro is filled with the scent of freshly baked chocolate croissants (a best-seller) and delectable pastries, a whir of coffee beans being ground into the perfect espresso, and a spirt of welcoming warmth.
While the pastries and breadbasket are ample, the café also serves breakfast and brunch items, including their hearty breakfast sandwich made even more delicious by the house-made cheddar jalapeno bread, the French classic Croque Madame oozing with gruyere cheese, and their popular avocado toast served alongside a watermelon radish, a feast for the eyes.
General Manager Brittany Davis says that the café is founded and operated on Christian principles, something very important to the father-son team and the people carrying out their mission. “Breaking bread is so biblical, and we want guests to feel like when they come here, they are breaking bread in the presence of Jesus.”
Just before the restaurant opened, the start-up team invited guests to come in and write Bible verses and inspirational quotes on the underside of each table. It’s a personal, unique touch that brought together a community of believers and set the tone for a Christian atmosphere.
Both of these Lubbock establishments are bold in their profession of faith, and the community has embraced their philosophies and their food. In 2022, that is something to celebrate.